Release Muntadar al-Zaidi!
By now, you've all seen the footage of the Iraqi journalist hurling his shoes at George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad on December 14, 2008. See below.
What has not been so widely reported are the words Muntadar al-Zaidi, a correspondent for Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV, shouted. As the first shoe was thrown at Bush, he said: "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog." And with his second shoe, which the president also dodged, al-Zaidi said: "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq."
This bold statement also has to be understood in its cultural context. Showing the soles of your shoes to someone, let alone tossing your shoes at them, is a sign of contempt in Arab culture.
After throwing his shoes, al-Zaidi was wrestled to the ground by security personnel and hauled away. According to Democracy Now! on December 16, "Muntadar al-Zaidi has been held without charge for over twenty-four hours and has been reportedly beaten in jail. His brother said al-Zaidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury. Earlier today, al-Zaidi was handed over to the Iraqi military command in Baghdad."We urge you to join the growing international call for the release of al-Zaidi! Click here to sign a petition: http://www.iraqsnuclearmirage.com/articles/Zaydi.html
Published on Saturday, August 29, 2009
by The Associated Press
Iraqi Who Threw Shoes at Bush to Be Released Early
by Kim Gamel
An Iraqi journalist imprisoned for hurling his shoes at former
President George W. Bush will be released next month after his
sentence was reduced for good behavior, his lawyer said Saturday.
[In this Dec. 14, 2008 file photo, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar
al-Zeidi throws a shoe at President George W. Bush during a new
conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, Iraq.
The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George
W. Bush will be freed Sept. 14 after getting early release for good
behavior, his lawyer said Saturday.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)]In
this Dec. 14, 2008 file photo, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi
throws a shoe at President George W. Bush during a new conference
with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, Iraq. The Iraqi
journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush
will be freed Sept. 14 after getting early release for good behavior,
his lawyer said Saturday.(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Muntadhar al-Zeidi's act of protest during Bush's last visit to Iraq
as president turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across
the Arab world, as his case became a rallying point for critics who
resented the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation.
"Al-Zeidi's shoes were a suitable farewell for Bush's deeds in Iraq,"
Sunni lawmaker Dhafir al-Ani said in welcoming the early release.
"Al-Zeidi's act expressed the real will and feelings of the Iraqi
people. His anger against Bush was the result of the suffering of his
The journalist has been in custody since the Dec. 14 outburst, which
occurred as Bush was holding a news conference with Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Maliki, who was standing next to Bush at the
time, was said to have been deeply offended by the act.
Al-Zeidi was initially sentenced to three years in prison after
pleading not guilty to assaulting a foreign leader. The court reduced
it to one year because the journalist had no prior criminal history.
Defense attorney Karim al-Shujairi said al-Zeidi will now be released
on Sept. 14, three months early.
"We have been informed officially about the court decision,"
al-Shujairi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "His
release will be a victory for the free and honorable Iraqi media."
Judicial spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said he had no immediate
information about the release because it was a weekend.
Followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who were among the
leaders of many of the demonstrations demanding al-Zeidi's release,
welcomed the decision to free him early.
"We believe that al-Zeidi did not commit any crime but only expressed
the will of the Iraqi people in rejecting the U.S. occupation,"
Sadrist lawmaker Falah Shanshal said. "Al-Zeidi's image will always
be a heroic one."
The bizarre act of defiance transformed the obscure reporter from a
minor TV station into a national hero to many Iraqis fed up with the
Thousands demonstrated for al-Zeidi's release and hailed his gesture.
A sofa-sized sculpture of a shoe was erected in his honor in Saddam
Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, but the Iraqi government later ordered
Neither leader was injured, but Bush was forced to duck for cover as
the journalist shouted in Arabic: "This is your farewell kiss, you
dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed
The case's investigating judge has said the journalist was struck
about the face and eyes, apparently by security agents who wrestled
him to the ground and dragged him away.
Al-Zeidi's family has said he was also mistreated while in custody,
although the government has denied the allegation.
"We thank God that he will be released, although we still fear for
his safety since he is still in the prison," his brother Dargham
said. "He will be released full of pride and strength from all the
love he has received from the Iraqi people and international
organizations and figures who advocate freedom."
Associated Press Writers Sameer N. Yacoub and Sinan Saleheddin
contributed to this report.