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12-14-2008, 06:56 PM
In final Iraq visit, Bush ducks a pair of shoes


Andrew McLemore

In his surprise final visit to Iraq this weekend, President Bush got an unusual reminder of his lack of popularity.

They were about a size 10.

An Iraqi journalist throw his shoes at Bush during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Bush ducked both throws and neither leader was hit.

Yelling "This is the end!" and calling Bush a "dog" in Arabic, the man was later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.

Bush smiled uncomfortably and Maliki looked strained.

"It doesn't bother me," Bush said, trying to calm down flustered reporters that quickly apologized for the actions of their colleague. "I didn't feel the least threatened by it."

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino suffered a black eye from a microphone that hit her in the ensuing chaos.

The shoe-thrower was wrestled to the ground and taken away. In Arab culture, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect.

After U.S. troops pulled down a statue of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqi bystanders tossed shoes at it, according to news reports at the time.

During his visit to Iraq, Bush called the Iraq war hard but necessary for the protection of the United States and the freedom of the Iraqi people, adding that the two nations are on "solid footing."

"The war is not over," he said.

This video is from MSNBC, broadcast Dec. 14, 2008.

Video At Source

12-15-2008, 02:36 PM
Arab world hails shoe attack as Bush's farewell gift



Iraq faced mounting calls on Monday to release the journalist who hurled his shoes at George W. Bush, an action branded shameful by the government but hailed by many in the Arab world as an ideal parting gift to the unpopular US president.

Colleagues of Muntazer al-Zaidi, who works for independent Iraqi television station Al-Baghdadia, said he "detested America" and had been plotting such an attack for months against the man who ordered the invasion of his country.

"Throwing the shoes at Bush was the best goodbye kiss ever... it expresses how Iraqis and other Arabs hate Bush," wrote Musa Barhoumeh, editor of Jordan's independent Al-Gahd Arabic newspaper.

Hundreds of Iraqis joined anti-US demonstrations to protest at Bush's farewell visit on Sunday to Iraq, which was plunged into a deadly insurgency and near civil war in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.

The Iraqi government however branded Zaidi's actions as "shameful" and demanded an apology from his Cairo-based employer, which in turn was calling for his immediate release from custody.

Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday, shouted "It is the farewell kiss, you dog" and threw two shoes at the US leader.

The shoes missed after Bush ducked and Zaidi was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and frogmarched from the room.

It is not known where Zaidi is currently being held.

"Al-Baghdadia television demands that the Iraqi authorities immediately release their stringer Muntazer al-Zaidi, in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people," it said in a statement.

"Any measures against Muntazer will be considered the acts of a dictatorial regime."

Saddam Hussein's former lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi said he was forming a team to defend Zaidi and that around 200 lawyers, including Americans, had offered their services for free.

"It was the least thing for an Iraqi to do to Bush, the tyrant criminal who has killed two million people in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Dulaimi.

His colleagues in the Baghdad office of Al-Baghdadia said Zaidi had long been planning to throw shoes at Bush if ever he got the chance.

"Muntazer detested America. He detested the US soldiers, he detested Bush," said one on condition of anonymity.

Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam's statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, many onlookers beat the statue's face with their soles.

During a demonstration in Sadr City, the bastion of radical anti-US cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, protestors threw shoes at passing US military vehicles, while in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, the crowds chanted "Down with America."

"All US soldiers who have used their shoes to humiliate Iraqis should be brought to justice, along with their US superiors, including Bush," said Ali Qeisi, head of a Jordan-based Iraqi rights group, calling for Zaidi's release.

"The flying shoe speaks more for Arab public opinion than all the despots/puppets that Bush meets with during his travels in the Middle East," said Asad Abu Khalil, a popular Lebanese-American blogger and professor at Stanislaus University in California at angryarab.blogspot.com

An Iraqi lawyer said Zaidi risked a miminum of two years in prison if he is prosecuted for insulting a visiting head of state, but could face a 15-year term if he is charged with attempted murder.

In Cairo, Muzhir al-Khafaji, programming director for the television channel, described Zaidi as a "proud Arab and an open-minded man," saying he had worked at Al-Baghdadia for three years.

"We fear for his safety," he told AFP, adding that Zaidi had been arrested twice before by the Americans and that there were fears that more of the station's 200 correspondents in Iraqi would be arrested.

"As far as I'm concerned, as he long as he hit him using a shoe it's perfect," said Cairo shoeshiner Ahmed Ali.

12-15-2008, 06:13 PM
Iraq TV demands release of shoe attacker


Agence France-Presse
Published: Monday December 15, 2008

BAGHDAD (AFP) — An Iraqi television station on Monday demanded the immediate release of one of its journalists who caused a furore when he hurled shoes at visiting US President George W. Bush.

Muntazer al-Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday, shouted "It is the farewell kiss, you dog" and threw two shoes at the US leader.

Bush ducked and the first shoe hit the American and Iraqi flags behind the two leaders, while the second was off target.

Zaidi, a reporter with the Al-Baghdadia channel which broadcasts from Cairo, was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and frogmarched from the room.

"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," it said in a statement.

In Cairo, Muzhir al-Khafaji, programming director for the television channel, described Zaidi as a "proud Arab and an open-minded man."

"We fear for his safety," he added.

12-16-2008, 10:09 AM
Bush's shoe attacker has broken arm, ribs: brother



The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at US President George W. Bush has a broken arm and ribs after being struck by Iraqi security agents, his brother told AFP on Tuesday.

Durgham Zaidi was unable to say whether his brother Muntazer had sustained the injuries while being overpowered during Sunday's protest against Bush's visit to Baghdad or while in custody later.

He said he had been told that his brother was being held by Iraqi forces in the heavily fortified Green Zone compound in central Baghdad where the US embassy and most government offices are housed.

"He has got a broken arm and ribs, and cuts to his eye and arm," said Durgham.

"He is being held by forces under the command of Muwaffaq al-Rubaie," Iraq's national security adviser, he added.

Zaidi, 29, a journalist for private Iraqi television channel Al-Baghdadia, was swiftly overpowered by Iraqi security forces after he threw the shoes at Bush in a gesture seen as the supreme mark of disrespect in the Muslim world.

An AFP journalist said that blood was visible on the ground as he was led away into custody although it was unclear if it was his.

Bush, who was on a swansong visit to the battleground that came to dominate his eight-year presidency, ducked when the shoes were thrown and later made light of the incident.

But Zaidi's action won him widespread plaudits in the Arab world where Bush's policies have drawn broad hostility.

The Lebanese television channel NTV, known for its opposition to Washington, went as far as offering a job to the journalist.

In its evening news bulletin on Monday, it said that if he takes the job, he will be paid "from the moment the first shoe was thrown".

A manager at the channel told AFP that it had made its offer known to Zaidi and was ready to post bail on his behalf.

An Iraqi lawyer said Zaidi risks a minimum of two years in prison if he is successfully prosecuted for insulting a visiting head of state.

In Gaza, around 20 Palestinian gunmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, a hardline militant group that has been behind a spate of rocket attacks on Israel in recent weeks, staged a demonstration in support of Zaidi.

Wearing fatigues and brandishing Kalashnikov assault rifles, they stamped on photographs of the US president and held banners in support of the journalist.

Egyptian independent daily Al-Badeel carried a frontpage caricature of the US flag with the sole of a shoe replacing the stars in the top corner.

Even government-owned newspapers in Cairo praised Zaidi's actions. "Pelting the American president with shoes was the best way for expressing what Iraqis and Arabs feel toward Bush," wrote Al-Gomhuria editor Mohammad Ali Ibrahim.

In Iraq, press comment was divided.

The pro-government Al-Sabah newspaper expressed concern about the potential impact on press freedom of what it called Zaidi's "abnormal individual behaviour."

But the independent Al-Dustur newspaper hailed the journalist as the "only Iraqi whose patriotic feelings made him express his opinion in this way."

"It is not a declaration by the Iraqi media only, but for all Iraqis who have suffered over the years and we demand that he not be handed over to US forces," the paper said.

12-16-2008, 12:05 PM
Secret Service hit for not reacting quickly to shoe throwing


(Gold9472: No, because the Secret Service failed to "protect" the President doesn't automatically mean that they had foreknowledge of the impending shoe attack, and knew that it wouldn't really hurt the President. I could see this being used by "debunkers" to discount our problems with the secret Service, and the school on the morning of 9/11.)

John Byrne
Published: Tuesday December 16, 2008

"A day after President Bush was nearly struck in the head by flying footwear at a Baghdad news conference, U.S. Secret Service officials faced questions Monday about how an Iraqi television reporter was able to hurl not one but two shoes at the president without the agents responsible for protecting him being able to move into the line of fire," Tuesday's Los Angeles Times reports.

Security experts the paper interviewed said the shoe-throwing imbroglio would probably lead to tighter security around the president -- in particular, agents closer to the president's body.

"They will probably make a decision to have more close-in agents, right around the president," Ronald T. Williams, a former Secret Service agent, told the paper. "They will make some adjustments, so if a shoe is thrown again, they can intercept it, or at least give the president cover."

Another former agent said after he say the tape that it seemed the agents moved particularly slowly.

"I thought they would have responded after the first shoe," the agent said.

The agency said reporters were thoroughly searched -- at least three times.

"Iraqi reporters attending the news conference were searched at least three times before entering, and their credentials had been screened," wrote the Times. "Both White House and Iraqi officials believe having bodyguards hovering around the president would have sent the wrong message.

"It would give the appearance that things are the same as Saddam's reign," said a man whose firm protected Barack Obama early in the campaign.

But the Times added that "former agents acknowledged that it was nonetheless embarrassing for the agency that the reporter was able to throw two shoes at Bush."

12-21-2008, 04:55 AM
Iraqi shoe-thrower: I would do it again



The Iraqi journalist who shocked the world by throwing his shoes at the US president reportedly says he would do it again if given the opportunity.

"In a letter to Iraqi prime minister, Muntadhar al-Zaidi has only apologized to Nuri al-Maliki himself," Fardanews reported, citing comments by an Iraqi source familiar with the case.

"He said that he felt no remorse for throwing his shoes at the 'Great Satan', George Bush, and added that he would repeat his actions if he sees him again, because Bush's forces have killed many of Iraq's children," added the source.

Al-Zaidi has told the judge investigating the incident that Bush was the target of his action not Nuri al-Maliki, whom he likes and respects, said the source, who according to Fardanews was close to the investigations.

Al-Baghdadiya satellite channel correspondent Muntadhar al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at US President George Bush during a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday, shouting in Arabic 'this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog'!

News of al-Zaidi's lack of remorse came after several Western media outlets reported that the journalist had written to Maliki apologizing for the incident, and describing it as an 'ugly action'.

Al-Zaidi's brother Uday, however, has rejected the reports, calling them 'incorrect'.

"This apology is not a real one. If they (the government) want an apology, they must first release him so he can do it freely and not under pressure," said Uday.

Fardanews also published comments by an anonymous Iraqi official involved in investigations, who confirmed that al-Zaidi had apologized to Maliki, but said that the reporter did not regret his action.

The official also said that in a written statement to the judge, al-Zaidi had said that he expected to be killed by the Bush's body guards after hurling the first shoe.

"It seemed that his bodyguards were not on full alert at the time, that was how I managed to throw the second shoe," the official quoted al-Zaidi as saying.

12-22-2008, 10:08 PM
Judge: No probe into torture of journalist who threw shoes at Bush
Judge dismisses torture allegations; Brother claims journalist beaten, subjected to electric shocks, forced to sign false confessions.


Agence France-Presse
Published: Monday December 22, 2008

BAGHDAD (AFP) – The Iraqi journalist thrust to instant fame when he threw his shoes at US President George W. Bush will go on trial this month on charges that carry up to 15 years in jail, a judge said on Monday.

Investigating judge Dhiya al-Kenani rejected new allegations by the journalist's family that he had been tortured in custody, charges that were levelled after a brother was allowed a first prison visit.

"The investigation phase is over and the case has been transferred to the Central Criminal Court," Kenani said. "The trial will start on Wednesday, December 31."

Muntazer al-Zaidi stands accused of "aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit," an offence that carries a prison term of between five and 15 years under Iraqi law.

But the court could convict him of the lesser charge of "attempted aggression" which carries a prison term of one to five years.

Zaidi, 29, became a hero to many when he threw his shoes at Bush during the US president's surprise visit to Iraq on December 14, an action considered a grave insult in the Arab world.

Kenani confirmed that Zaidi's lawyer had lodged a complaint over his treatment and that a letter would be sent to the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to request that security guards be brought to justice.

One of Zaidi's brothers, Uday, told AFP he had been able to visit him in custody for the first time on Sunday and charged that the journalist had been tortured by his captors to force him to sign a statement.

"I met my brother for around an hour. He has been tortured while in detention for 36 hours continuously. He has been hit with iron rods and cables," the brother said.

"There is very severe bleeding in his eye, and he has bruises on his feet and nose, and he was also tortured with electric shocks.

"He was forced to sign a statement confessing to receiving money from different groups and saying that he did not throw his shoes for the honour of Iraq," Uday said.

"But Muntazer said I will not apologise for what I did -- not now, not ever."

Maliki's office confirmed that the premier had received a letter signed by Zaidi alleging third party involvement in his protest.

"Muntazer al-Zaidi has expressed regret in a letter I received from him in which he revealed that an individual persuaded him to commit this action and that this person is well-known for beheading people," it quoted Maliki as saying.

The allusion was clearly to insurgent groups opposed to his US-backed government that have executed captives in the past, but it was unclear precisely which individual Maliki was referring to.

The judge dismissed the family's torture allegations.

"Muntazer's brother is lying, because there are only bruises on Muntazer's face that he received during the arrest and they are small ones," Kenani told AFP.

"Even if it were true that he had been tortured with electric shocks, it would leave burns on his body, and you will see Muntazer during the trial, so you can judge for yourself.

But Uday insisted that any public appearance would prove the truth of his allegations. "If I am lying, let the judge show Muntazer on television for everyone to see," he said.

His lawyer had asked that Zaidi's case be transferred from the central criminal court, which handles terrorism cases, to an ordinary tribunal but the judge refused.

Meanwhile another brother, Durgham, slammed people reportedly trying to exploit the incident for commercial gain.

"It's all nonsense. These people want to exploit what my brother did," he said after being told a Turkish firm claimed it had manufactured the offending footwear.

A White House spokesman reiterated the US position that it is up to Iraq to handle Zaidi.

"He's in the hands of the Iraqi system. I don't have anything more on the shoe-thrower," spokesman Tony Fratto told reporters when asked if the White House was concerned about reports that the Iraqi journalist showed signs of having been tortured.

"I think that's been explored extensively and I have nothing new for you."