Iraqi Scribe Hurls Shoes at Bush

A ‘historical’ moment in Iraq’s US occupation indeed. It was on December 14 when US President George W. Bush along with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was addressing a press conference in Iraq that a journalist hurled his shoes at Bush shouting Ya Kalb – meaning ‘You Dog.’

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A ‘historical’ moment in Iraq’s US occupation indeed. It was on December 14 when US President George W. Bush along with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was addressing a press conference in Iraq that a journalist hurled his shoes at Bush shouting Ya Kalb – meaning ‘You Dog.’

Muntather Al-Zaidi, a 28-year-old reporter for Al-Baghdadia TV – an independent satellite channel based in Cairo – threw his pairs of shoes at Bush, saying, “This is the farewell kiss, you dog! This is a gift from the Iraqis.”

Zaidi was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and frog-marched from the room, where Bush was delivering the speech.

The president lowered his head and the first shoe hit the American and Iraqi flags behind the two leaders. Zaidi threw the second shoe and added, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” This second hit was off target.

Muntather Al-Zaidi is a graduate in journalism from Baghdad University and was active during pre-2003 in the Iraqi Federation and Student Union and is known to be vehemently opposing the dual occupation of Iraq.

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.

Bush laughed off the incident, saying, “It doesn’t bother me. If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw.” He later played down the incident: “I don’t know what the guy’s cause is. I didn’t feel the least bit threatened by it.”

Bush was on his fourth and final official trip to Iraq since he ordered the March 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. He said in the news conference, “There is still more work to be done.”

As he and Maliki signed a security pact setting out new guidelines for US troops in Iraq, the president said, “The war is not over, but with the conclusion of these agreements, it is decisively on its way to being won.” Bush has staunchly defended the invasion that triggered years of deadly insurgency and sectarian violence that has killed tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 4,200 American troops.

Renowned TV channels including bbc.co.uk and msnbc.co covered the incident.