The Iraqi journalist, Muntadar al-Zeidi, has been hailed by his fellow Iraqis as a hero for having the courage to throw his shoes at President George W. Bush. Iraqi's have taken to the streets to protest and demand his release from prison.
UPDATE: An update, from Siun, or Firedoglake
Raed in the Middle reports:
Albaghdadia, the TV channel where the Iraqi Journalist Montather Al-Zeidi works, reports that an Iraqi MP (Ms. Zainab Al-Kanani) informed them that Montather’s hand was broken in jail.
This confirms a lot of reports and rumors about Montather being subject to torture while the Iraqi authorities are interrogating and detaining him in some unspecified location.
and from Roads to Iraq:
Iraqi TV al-Sharqiya just reported on the news that AL-Zaidi is transferred to Camp Cropper prison [the Airport prison, managed by the American forces].
The TV Channel announced that Al-Zaidi is in a difficult condition, with broken ribs and signs of tortures on his thighs. Also he can not move his right arm.
The good news is that al-Zaidi is being transferred to a US prison, which means that he will receive responsible care. Abu Ghraib jokes aside, I have a friend who is serving at Camp Bucca. While many innocents are still being held in US prisons without trial, I do believe that al-Zaidi will be treated humanely. source
One of his colleagues in the Baghdad office of Al-Baghdadia said Zaidi had been planning to throw shoes at Bush if ever he got the chance.
When he said he was going to do it, we didn't doubt him," he said. "Muntazer detested America. He detested the US soldiers, he detested
Bush," said another co-worker who also spoke on condition of anonymity.
Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After dashed Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, many onlookers beat the statue's face with their soles. 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.""We fear for his safety," he told AFP, adding that Zaidi had been arrested twice before by the Americans. "We fear that our correspondents in in
Muntadar al-Zeidi's brother explained the reporter's reaction was due to his coverage of the Iraq war and his interaction with civilians after the war began in 2003. Watch a video update about the protests.
This is a Department of Defense video that shows the shoe-throwing incident from a slightly different angle. The video includes footage before and after the incident. President Bush tried to laugh off and joke about the shoe throwing insult but the damage was already done to his public image and reputation.
Watch a discussion with NBC foreign correspondent Richard Engel who witnessed the incident and says how the information was almost not released to the press who were initially asked to turn over their footage by Prime Minister Maliki.
UPDATE - BUSH SHOE ATTACK BY MICHAEL WARE
Muntadhar al-Zaidi's feelings were influenced by watching the agony suffered by everyday Iraqis. Most of the reporter's stories focused on Iraqi widows, orphans, and children, said the brother.
Sometimes the 29-year-old journalist would cry. Moved by the tales he reported of poor families, he sometimes asked his colleagues to give money to them. On most nights, he returned to his home in central Baghdad -- one of the country's most violent slums and the epicenter of several of the war's pitched battles.
Muntadhar al-Zaidi's reporting for Egypt-based independent television Al-Baghdadia was "against the occupation," his brother said. The journalist would occasionally sign off his stories "from occupied Baghdad." source
Muntadar al-Zeidi, 28, was arrested after throwing his shoes at Mr Bush during a press conference with Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister.
Mr Bush ducked twice as the shoes narrowly missed his head and hit the wall behind him.
Mr Zeidi was wrestled to the ground before being dragged from the press conference and detained by Iraqi security forces. But the Shia television reporter’s protest – during which he shouted at Mr Bush “This is a gift from the Iraqis.This is a farewell kiss, you dog” – was praised across the Middle East, including in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Jordan. A Libyan charity nominated him for a bravery award.
It was disclosed yesterday that Mr Zeidi “detested America”. He was once briefly detained by the US military and was also kidnapped by militants.
Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam Hussein’s former lawyer, offered to represent Mr Zeidi and said about 200 lawyers had volunteered their services free of charge.
“Our defence of Zeidi will be based on the fact that the United States is occupying Iraq, and resistance is legitimate by all means, including shoes,” he said.
Mr Bush tried to laugh off the incident, saying: “That was a size 10 shoe he threw at me you may want to know.”
But an Iraqi government spokesman demanded an apology: “At the same time that we condemn this ignominious act, we call on the television channel of this reporter to deliver a public apology for this act which sullies the reputation of all Iraqi journalists and the whole media.”
The station, Al-Baghdadia, defiantly replayed the broadcast and made repeated pleas for Mr Zeidi’s release “in accordance with the democratic era and the freedom of expression that Iraqis were promised by US authorities”.
Mr Zeidi’s brother Udai said: “Thanks be to God, Muntadar’s act fills Iraqi hearts with pride. I’m sure many Iraqis want to do what Muntadar did. Muntadar used to say all the orphans whose fathers were killed are because of Bush.”
In Sadr City – the Baghdad home of the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr – thousands gathered to burn American flags and call for the release of Mr Zeidi. In the holy city of Najaf, several protesters threw shoes at an American patrol, while others demonstrated in the southern city of Basra.
Colleagues said he “detested America” and blamed Mr Bush for the damage done to his country by the 2003 invasion. source
Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Monday to demand the release of a reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in anger at U.S. policies, as support for the act and the journalist flowed in from across the Arab world.
The protests came as suicide bombers and gunmen targeted Iraqi police, plus U.S.-allied Sunni guards and civilians, in a series of attacks Monday that killed at least 17 people and wounded more than a dozen others, officials said.
The journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, was being held by Iraqi security Monday and interrogated about whether anybody had paid him to throw his shoes at Bush during a news conference Sunday in Baghdad, said an Iraqi official.
He was also being tested for alcohol and drugs, and his shoes were held as evidence, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
Showing the sole of your shoe to someone in the Arab world is a sign of extreme disrespect, and throwing your shoes is even worse. Iraqis whacked a statue of Saddam Hussein with their shoes after U.S. Marines toppled it after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Iraqi security guards wrestled al-Zeidi to the ground immediately after he tossed his shoes.
Bush was not hit by the shoes, but White House press secretary Dana Perino suffered an eye injury when she was hit in the face with a microphone during the melee.
On Monday, reporters were repeatedly searched and asked to show identification before entering the heavily guarded Green Zone, where the press conference took place.
Newspapers across the Arab world printed front-page photos of Bush ducking the flying shoes, and satellite TV stations repeatedly aired the incident, which was hailed by the president's many critics in the region.
Many are fed up with U.S. policy and still angry over Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam.
As many as 98,000 Iraqi civilians may have been killed since the war began, according to Iraq Body Count, an independent organization that tracks media reports as well as official figures. The war has cost nearly $576 billion so far, according to the National Priorities Project. source