Iraq is being called to release a journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush. While the act is being called shameful many in the Middle East say that it was the ideal parting gift for the United States President.
Many in the Middle East place blame on George Bush for turmoil in the region. The invasion of Iraq has caused many to have a sheer disgust for the American president who will be leaving office in January.
The AFP reports:
“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.
Reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi, who works for independent Iraqi television station Al-Baghdadia, had planned the shoe throwing for months. He was not alone in protesting Bush’s farewell visit to Iraq. Hundreds of Iraqis attended anti-US demonstrations on Sunday.
The government in Iraq is calling the actions shameful and demanding an apology from his Cairo-based employer. His employer in turn is demanding his release from jail. He is being jailed in an undisclosed location.
“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.”
In Arab culture the soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult. When Saddam Hussein’s statue was fallen in Baghdad in April 2003 many of those in attendance beat the statue’s face with the soles of their shoes.
In Sadr City protesters have thrown their shoes at passing US military vehicles while chanting “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
The programming director for the television station Zaidi works for fears for their comrade. He has worked for Al-Baghdadia the past three years. He has been described as being an open-minded proud Arab.
“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.