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Bush Dodges Shoes in Iraq

While on a surprise visit to Iraq, President Bush was at a news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki when an Iraqi television reporter, Muntadar al-Zaidi, hurled his shoe at the president’s head from a few meters away.

“This is a gift from the Iraqis. This is the farewell kiss, you dog!” the journalist yelled. He had time to hurl his other shoe as well, before he was wrestled to the ground and dragged from the room.

Bush’s quick reflexes saved him from getting smacked in the head, because he ducked to one side as the shoes sailed past.

The idea of shoes being an Arab insult has been a running joke for the Angry Arab for some time. Predictably, U.S. media explaining the event said that “in Arab culture, the sole of the shoe is considered an insult” or “in Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt.”

Angry Arab’s original post on the subject was in February 2007. Further discussion of shoe throwing and whether it’s a uniquely Arab form of insult can be found here.

Bush himself called the incident “one way to gain attention…like going to a political rally and having people yell at you.” As a sign of democracy in action, “it’s an important step on the road to an Iraq that can sustain itself, govern itself and defend itself.”

Here’s a video of the historic event. I’m so glad this happened!

UPDATE: The shoe-hurling journalist is now a folk hero in Iraq, and apparently, in the comment section of the New York Times as well. Here’s a sample of some of the responses there.

    This brave journalist has acted on behalf of billions of people worldwide.
    It is regrettable that American journalists did not symbolically throw their shoes at Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Powell when they were lying through their teeth to bring on this illegal, unjust and murderous war.
    It’s nice to read that a pair of shoes have united the people of Iraq.
    George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld don’t merit thrown shoes … they merit imprisonment for life.
    Those thrown shoes were but a symbol, but I bet it’s a symbol that will live for some time to come.


Comment from Richard Huether
Time: December 15, 2008, 19:49

This journalist showed no bravery at all. I would have like to have seen him throw his shoes at Saddam Husseini and see if he lived to see another day. President Bush and the war that the United Nations was to chicken to fight after Saddam Husseini stuck his nose at the UN for years with those stupid ineffective resolutions the UN always vote on with no action to back them up. Iraq can now be their own country again thanks to President Bush. Good thing our Founding Fathers did not act some of these Iraqi people or we would be speaking Old English and pay our respects to the Queen and the Prime Minister of England.

Comment from eatbees
Time: December 16, 2008, 01:54

Richard, if you think the Iraqis “are their own country again” because of President Bush, doesn’t that put them in the perverse and degrading position of thanking a foreign army for their own freedom? Do you think that we Americans would tolerate that, if it happened to us?

I’m sure that most Iraqis would have been happy to see the overthrow of Saddam, but they never asked us to invade their country and do it for them, certainly not at the cost of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. Why should they be grateful now?

If you want the Iraqis to act more like our Founding Fathers, I’m all in agreement with you. That means demanding their rights, their independence, and the speedy departure of the foreign occupier.

To me it looks like the journalist, Muntadar al-Zaidi, acted in the spirit of our Founding Fathers. Maybe Alexander Hamilton would have been too proper to throw a shoe at the foreign tyrant, but I could imagine Ben Franklin doing it, or certainly Tom Paine.

Comment from Lucy
Time: December 20, 2008, 09:32

this is so funny i love that guy

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