Shoe Thrower Set Loose

Shoe Thrower Set Loose

Iraqi reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi, correspondent for al- Baghdadiya television news service, was freed from a Baghdad prison yesterday, nine months after he interrupted a speech by the President of the United States by yelling You lie!”  “It is the farewell kiss, you dog!” He also presented George W. Bush with two Florsheim Awards on behalf of Iraqi widows and orphans. President Bush was visibly moved.

After the release of the Iraqi shoe-thrower, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security elevated security threat levels to cordovan.

Mr. al-Zaidi was a reporter for local Al-Baghdadia Satellite TV News. The policies of President Bush made Iraq so secure that Al-Baghdadia must broadcast from Cairo.

Muntazer al-Zaidi is one of the 84 journalists and media assistants kidnapped in Iraq since the US invasion. Before his own government arrested him, he had been beaten and held for two days by insurgents, so his shoe-throwing protest had a moral authority obvious throughout the region, if not to Mr. Bush.

There are reports that the U.S.-supported Iraqi government emulated American prison “Best Practices” by waterboarding Mr. al-Zaidi. Professors John Yoo and Alberto Gonzales could not be reached for comment.

Why throw shoes? Even showing the soles of your shoes to another is considered a grievous insult in the Middle East. Visiting U.S. businessmen are cautioned not to cross their legs while meeting with local residents to avoid inadvertent insults:

Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, many onlookers beat the statue’s face with their soles. – “Journalist hurls shoes at Bush,” AFP

Muntazer al-Zaidi, now a major Mideast celebrity, says he hopes to work on behalf of Iraqi widows and orphans, but he is hotly pursued by shoe companies (Adidas? Nike?) for endorsements, and the Washington Nationals may consider him for their pitching staff.


 Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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