Saturday, December 14, 2019

Portrait of a "Shoe-icide Bomber" (revisited)

Muntadhar al-Zaidi (Arabic: منتظر الزيدي‎ Muntaẓar al-Zayidī) is an Iraqi broadcast journalist who serves as a correspondent for Cairo-based, Iraqi-owned Al-Baghdadia TV. Al-Zaidi's reports often concerned the plight of widows, orphans, and children in the Iraq War.

During a press conference on December 14, 2008, at the Prime Minister's Palace in Baghdad, Iraq, al-Zaidi threw his shoes at United States President George W. Bush. Throwing shoes is an act of extreme disrespect in both the Arab and Islamic cultures.

"This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog," yelled al-Zaidi in Arabic as he threw his first shoe towards the U.S. president. "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq," he shouted as he threw his second shoe. President Bush ducked twice, avoiding being hit by the shoes.

Al-Zaidi was then pulled to the floor by another journalist, before being grabbed by Prime Minister Maliki's guards, kicked, and rushed out of the room. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino was hit in the face by a microphone boom sent flying by a presidential bodyguard resulting in a clearly visible black eye.

On December 15, 2008, thousands of Iraqis marched in Baghdad to demand the release of al-Zaidi. Crowds gathered in Sadr City district of Baghdad and called for "hero" Muntadhar al-Zaidi to be freed from custody. There were similar scenes in Najaf. The demonstrators in Sadr City and Najaf alluded to the shoes. Participants in Sadr City "waved shoes attached to long poles" and those in Najaf threw their shoes at a passing United States military convoy. The "vast majority" of viewers of al-Baghdadia who telephoned to the station in order to express their opinions said that they approved al-Zaidi's actions.

On December 15, 2008, al-Zaidi was given a bravery award by Libyan charity group Wa Attassimou, chaired by Ayesha Qaddafi. The group called for al-Zaidi's release. A shoe producer in Turkey claimed that it had made the shoes, and another producer in Lebanon suggested that it might have made them. Many shoes in Iraq are made in China. Al-Zaidi's brother stated, "One hundred percent they are Iraqi-made shoes" and that the shoes were made in Baghdad by a highly-reputed firm called Alaa Haddad. In Syria, al-Zaidi was "hailed as a hero."

A Saudi businessman has offered US$10 million to buy the shoes. "The shoes should be exhibited in a museum as they resemble a rocket that talks on behalf of all Iraqis," read a posting on website of Arabian Business magazine. The Lebanese television channel NTV offered a job to al-Zaidi. NTV said that if al-Zaidi accepted the job offer, that he would be paid "from the moment the first shoe was thrown." Al-Zaidi's family turned down an invitation by the Venezuelan President to come and live in the Latin American country. "We are grateful to President Hugo Chavez. However we are Iraqis, we live in Iraq," Oudai al-Zaidi said speaking on the behalf of his family. Al-Zaidi has also been offered a six-door Mercedes, had a song written about him, had his incident reconstructed in an Afghan comedy sketch, and been offered the hand of a man's 20-year-old daughter in marriage. The young woman Amal Saad Gumaa said she likes the idea of being attached to a man she finds so honorable.

In Lahore, Pakistan, around 150 journalists demonstrated outside a press club to demand the release of al-Zaidi. Al-Zaidi has also found much support on social websites such as Facebook, where he has groups dedicated to him called "I enjoyed watching that Shoe thrown at George Bush", "The Iraqi Journalist who threw his shoes at Bush is my new HERO!!!" The group has members from the Middle East, Europe, Africa and America. Inspired by al-Zaidi's actions, the anti-war group Code Pink pelted shoes at an effigy of U.S. president George W. Bush outside the White House on December 17, 2008.

[Extracted from Wikipedia]

Bush, to his credit, was able to shrug off this public humiliation minutes after the attack by quipping that he thought the shoes were size 10. Personally, I think it would have been much more effective if Muntadhar had flung his unwashed socks at Bush along with his shoes.

[Here's a classic song from 50 years ago to commemorate this outstanding event.]

[First posted 19 December 2008]


Unknown said...

This incident, interesting in itself, is even more so because it shows, yet again, the power of the internet. Would this attack have come to the public’s attention if it had occurred in pre-internet days? The camera-men present would have been silenced and the entire episode quietly erased from memory.

But the internet is a powerful weapon and even simple folks like us can use it to show the high and mighty that they are not that high and mighty. And al-Zaidi, by his spontaneous act, has shown us how.

Anonymous said...

LOL... I had a good laugh watching the video. how did he managed to dodge the speeding shoe??

Anonymous said...

Won't be surprised Muntadhar al-Zaidi will cut a CD and it will be a triple platinum in the Arab world. He might even be invited to the Oprah Winfrey Show.Throwing shoes makes him famous and maybe rich. A businessman offered USD10 million for that pair of shoes! Do that in Malaysia and you end up in Kamunting! hehe!!!

Oh I like the title - Shoe-icide Bomber,

Pat said...

What a shame Bush managed the quick duck! Twice!

Thanks for the gem of the George Harrison song. He was my favourite Beatle :)


Anonymous said...

Dubya got a real kick out of this. In Saddam's day this reporter would have been fed to the plastic shredder, after being forced to watch his wife and daughters get gang-raped.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
Bush was worse than Hitler

and Stalin and Mao
and the Devil combined
All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
Help Halt Terrorism Today!


Donplaypuks® said...

I wonder what this shoe thrower's contribution was when Saddam Hussein was in power and how he bravely stood up then for freedom and democracy.

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

That would be his story then. In the mean time, G. Bushed will not matter in a few weeks. The problems in Iraq on the other hand is going to linger on until it explodes again. That man will probably be there to document it.

If there is one thing I can credit the outgoing President is that he has pretty good reflexes. However, a more aerodynamic shape in the footwear would probably have aided in nailing this clay duck in the head.

It's been said that shoes make a man, that our pod wear makes a personal statement. Therefore the sort of energy picked up from the land of Iraq through a sole of the nation is appropriate in hitting back at this miscreant draco. I suspect it is going to take a real American made shoe for the aim to be true.

Starmandala said...

DPP - Muntadhar is 29 which means he was probably just a gleam in his daddy's eye when Saddam Hussein became president of Iraq in 1979. I believe Al-Zaidi's family fled to Egypt to escape Saddam's tyranny. Those who remained in Iraq were generally fine - so long as they stayed out of politics & minded their own business, pretty much like in Malaysia, Singapore, or Brunei (maybe just slightly more gory). Are you suggesting that Cheney, Bush, Rice & Rumsfeld were justified in leveling half of Baghdad just to oust Saddam? And do you actually believe the Americans did it because they care so deeply about democracy & human rights? Hmmmm... naw, I'm sure that's NOT what you meant... would you care to clarify?

Anonymous said...

Although I do not believe in resorting to physical violence to solve any dispute...

...but when you're vicariously liable for killing innocent men, raping women and displacing children, I think having a shoe thrown at you is a nice and sweet farewell gift...befitting anyone, even a President of the so called Free World.

Andy said...

I cheered when I saw this happen on the nightly news. My children (ages 15, 13, 12, and 7) were also thrilled. We have spent a lot of time (as a family) discussing Bush's impact on the United States as a world citizen. He deserves far worse than this for his crimes against humanity.

Thanks for the article. It is always good to get the context behind and around events.

Starmandala said...

USpace, you sound like a real nice person who just happened to be born & raised in a country where every schoolkid is systematically brainwashed to believe that the US of A is the world's #1 superpower and that as a nation of mostly Christians it has God on its side; indeed, America fights to free the rest of the world from tyranny and injustice. Yawn.

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