Yesterday, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference and denounced the president as a “dog.” He described his action as a “farewell kiss” to the president for his launching the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The incident has been widely reported in the corporate media, but there has been relatively little examination of why the journalist took the action or how it has played out in Iraq. According to reports, journalist Muntazeer al-Zaidi was motivated to take the action because of his experiences with the US occupation of Iraq. al-Zaidi’s friends have described him as “emotionally influenced” by the aerial bombing of Baghdad’s Sadr City over the past year. al-Zaidi was also kidnapped in 2007 by a Shiite militia group. As he was tackled to the ground, al-Zaidi was yelling “killer of Iraqis, killer of children.”
While Bush shrugged off the action, it has been met with support by some Iraqis. It was cheered by Iraqis who took to the streets and called for the journalist’s release. Protests took place in Iraq where demonstrators chanted “Listen Bush, we got you out with a pair of shoes,” “if we run out of ammunition we will hit them with shoes,” and “America out now” according to media reports. Muntazeer al-Zaidi’s employer–Al-Baghdadiya television–has also called for the journalist’s release and has suspended regular programming to broadcast messages of support from across the Arab world. Two journalists at the press conference were also removed and temporarily detained for calling the action “courageous.”
View the video of the shoe throwing: