The Shoe And the Dog  

Posted by Big Gav

One of the more entertaining media events of the year that took place during my break was one brave journalist doing some rather active questioning of George bush during a visit to Iraq, with the fellow hurling his shoes at the chief invader and following with a torrent of abuse - Iraqi Journalist Hurls Shoes at Bush and Denounces Him on TV as a ‘Dog’ (note the URL structure - has the NYT always referred to Bush as "Prexy" ? There must be a Brunner fan in there somewhere).

With the usual black humour that follows these sorts of events, the guy was dragged outside for a beating, with Bush noting that Iraqi democracy must be a success if people are willing to speak out, as the guy's screams echoed through the corridors of the building. See - its much better than it was under Saddam !

President Bush made a valedictory visit on Sunday to Iraq, the country that will largely define his legacy, but the trip will more likely be remembered for the unscripted moment when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at Mr. Bush’s head and denounced him on live television as a “dog” who had delivered death and sorrow here from nearly six years of war.

The drama unfolded shortly after Mr. Bush appeared at a news conference in Baghdad with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to highlight the newly adopted security agreement between the United States and Iraq. The agreement includes a commitment to withdraw all American forces by the end of 2011.

The Iraqi journalist, Muntader al-Zaidi, 28, a correspondent for Al Baghdadia, an independent Iraqi television station, stood up about 12 feet from Mr. Bush and shouted in Arabic: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” He then threw a shoe at Mr. Bush, who ducked and narrowly avoided it.

As stunned security agents and guards, officials and journalists watched, Mr. Zaidi then threw his other shoe, shouting in Arabic, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” That shoe also narrowly missed Mr. Bush as Prime Minister Maliki stuck a hand in front of the president’s face to help shield him.

Mr. Maliki’s security agents jumped on the man, wrestled him to the floor and hustled him out of the room. They kicked him and beat him until “he was crying like a woman,” said Mohammed Taher, a reporter for Afaq, a television station owned by the Dawa Party, which is led by Mr. Maliki. Mr. Zaidi was then detained on unspecified charges.

Other Iraqi journalists in the front row apologized to Mr. Bush, who was uninjured and tried to brush off the incident by making a joke. “All I can report is it is a size 10,” he said, continuing to take questions and noting the apologies. He also called the incident a sign of democracy, saying, “That’s what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves,” as the man’s screaming could be heard outside. ...

Hitting someone with a shoe is considered the supreme insult in Iraq. It means that the target is even lower than the shoe, which is always on the ground and dirty. Crowds hurled their shoes at the giant statue of Mr. Hussein that stood in Baghdad’s Firdos Square before helping American marines pull it down on April 9, 2003, the day the capital fell. More recently in the same square, a far bigger crowd composed of Iraqis who had opposed the security agreement flung their shoes at an effigy of Mr. Bush before burning it.

Friends described Mr. Zaidi as a devoted journalist. “He was committed to his job and after training in Lebanon became chief of correspondents about a month ago,” said Haider Nassar, who worked with him at Baghdadia.

“He had bad feelings about the coalition forces,” said Mr. Nassar, referring to the American-led foreign forces in Iraq. Mr. Nassar also said Mr. Zaidi had asked to cover the news conference. Another friend said Mr. Zaidi often ended his reports by saying, “Reporting from occupied Baghdad, this is Muntader al-Zaidi.”

The guy is apparently a hero on Facebook now and the brand of shoes he threw is selling like hot cakes in the middle east.

2 comments

PaulS   says 2:12 AM

Prexy...that word seems out of a time warp, but the Times can be like that on occasion. I can't recall ever hearing it spoken, but years ago it was common in print. (Still, in this regard, we have nothing on Australians with their arvos and servos and rellies and multitudinous other abbreviations...)

:-)

Good to see someone is familiar with our dialect...

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