Iraqi journo ‘shoes’ Bush away


BAGHDAD—It gives fresh meaning to the phrase shooed away.

United States President George W. Bush ducked a pair of shoes hurled at his head, one shoe after the other, in the middle of a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Both shoes narrowly missed their target and thumped loudly against the wall behind the leaders.

“Don’t worry about it,” the president said as the room erupted into chaos.

Iraqi reporters started shouting what Bush later explained were apologies for the incident.

“So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?” Bush said, comparing the action to political protests in the United States. “If you want the facts, it was a size 10,” he joked.

The shoe attack came as Bush and al-Maliki were about to shake hands. The assailant, later identified as television correspondent Muntadar al-Zeidi, leapt from his chair and hurled his footwear at the president, who was about 20 feet away.

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog,” he yelled in Arabic. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”

The crowd descended on al-Zeidi, who works for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt. He was wrestled to the ground by security officials and then hauled away, moaning as they departed the room. Later, a trail of fresh blood could be seen on the carpet, although the source was not known.

In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. When US Marines toppled Saddam Hussein’s statue on Firdos Square in 2003, the assembled crowd whacked it with their shoes.

When Bush met with reporters later aboard Air Force One, he had a joke prepared: “I didn’t know what the guy said but I saw his ‘sole.’” Later, he said: “I’m going to be thinking of shoe jokes for a long time. I haven’t heard any good ones yet.”

Al-Baghdadia’s Baghdad manager told the AP he had no idea what prompted his reporter to go on the attack.

“I have been trying to reach Muntadar since the incident, but in vain,” said Fityan Mohammed. “His phone is switched off.”

The station issued a statement on the air Sunday night asking the Iraqi government to release al-Zeidi “to spare his life.”

“The station calls on journalists all over the world to express their solidarity for the release of al-Zeidi,” it said. (AP)(SunStar)

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One Response to “Iraqi journo ‘shoes’ Bush away”

  1. Eric Says:

    Hilarious!

    http://www.myshoesagainstbush.com

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