Iraqi journalist arrested after throwing shoes at George W. Bush

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Iraqi journalist has been arrested, and allegedly beaten, by police after he threw his shoes at United States president George W. Bush during a press conference on Sunday in Baghdad.

Dargham al-Zaidi, the brother of Muntadar, the 28-year-old journalist who gave Bush 'the boot', says that he received severe injuries after he was allegedly beaten by authorities and security officials who tried to detain Muntadar. Dargham says his brother is suffering from internal bleeding, broken ribs, an injury to one of his eyes and is receiving treatment at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad.

Dargham also says that his brother has not been able to see a lawyer since being arrested, even though several have stepped forward in an offer to defend him.

Before throwing his shoes at Bush, the reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi of Al-Baghdadia, an Iraqi-owned television station based in Cairo, Egypt, stood up and said, "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, dog!" The words were followed by the reporter's two shoes being thrown at Bush in succession, who had to duck in order to avoid being hit by them. Shortly after each shoe flew within a few inches of Bush, authorities quickly neutralized the reporter and took him out of the room. Before his exit, the man further screamed "this is the end!" Dargham says his brother threw his shoes at Bush because he hates the "material American occupation" of Iraq, and the influence Iran has in Iraq.

In Arabic culture, hitting or throwing shoes at someone so the soles hit them is considered to be the greatest insult. In 2003, when Iraqi citizens tore down the statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad, they began to smack it with the soles of their shoes.

As a result of the allegations, protests are now planned around Iraq. Citizens, who now consider Muntadar to be a national hero, demand that the government release him.

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