Monday, Dec 15, 2008
Citizens in Baghdad have ennobled a frogmarched Iraqi reporter for throwing his shoes at lame duck US President George W. Bush.
Iraqi reporter Muntadhar al-Zaidi shocked the world on Sunday by hurling his shoes at the visiting US president, who had come to the war-torn country to say farewell.
Sitting in the third row at a press conference attended by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the reporter ‘jumped up’ and shouted “It is the farewell kiss, you dog.”
He then threw his shoes one after the other toward Bush, who was reportedly not hurt. Bush ducked and the first shoe hit the American and Iraqi flags behind the two leaders, while Maliki tried to block the second shoe as it flew toward Bush.
Iraqi security staff ‘frogmarched’ the journalist out.
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Iraqi television responded by demanding the immediate release of the al-Baghdadia correspondent and called on authorities to respect the right of the detained in exercising “freedom of expression”.
“Al-Baghdadia television demands that the Iraqi authorities immediately release their stringer Muntadhar al-Zaidi, in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people,” reads a statement released by the station.
Baghdad citizens also voiced approval over the stunning act and raked the police over the coals for the arrest.
In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. Iraqis bashed the statue of Saddam with their shoes after US marines toppled it to the ground following the devastating 2003 invasion.
A study conducted by ORB — a well-known British polling agency which has been tracking public opinion in Iraq since 2005 — estimated in September 2007 that 1.2 million Iraqis had been killed in violence-related incidents following the March 2003 invasion of the country.
This is while Human Rights Watch estimates put the number of those killed during a period of twenty years of the reign of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein at 250,000 to 290,000.
This article was posted: Monday, December 15, 2008 at 5:20 am