Iraqi journalist throws shoes at US president George Bush

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bush and al-Maliki shake hands during the press conference, following the signing of the Strategic Framework Agreement.
Image: Eric Draper.

An Iraqi journalist for an Egyptian Newspaper named Muntazer al-Zaidi was tackled by authorities after he threw his shoes at United States president George W. Bush during a press conference on Sunday in Baghdad. Bush had made a surprise last visit to Iraq to sign a new security pact brokered by Iraq and the U.S.

Before throwing his shoes at Bush, the reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi of Al-Baghdadia, a local television station, 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, who had to duck in order to avoid being hit with them. Shortly after each shoe flew within a few inches of Bush, authorities quickly neutralized the reporter and took him out of the room.

In Arabic culture, hitting or throwing shoes at someone so the soles hit them is considered a great 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.

Despite the incident, the press conference continued with some reporters apologizing for the man's actions. It even appeared that Bush was smiling, as the shoes flew past his head.

"Thanks for apologizing on behalf of the Iraqi people. It doesn't bother me. If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw," said Bush in regards to the incident who also said that he didn't feel threatened.