Thursday, December 18, 2008

Armed with a shoe, Iraqi journalist inspires resistance

Bush ducks footwear, but still gets a kick to the face

During George W. Bush’s final visit to the country that has endured indescribable death and destruction under his administration, the defiance of one brave journalist encapsulated the sentiment of people all over the world.

Iraqis show solidarity with shoe thrower al-Zaidi, 12-15-08
Iraqis demonstrate in solidarity
with al-Zaidi, Dec. 15

Muntadhar al-Zaidi, a journalist with Al-Baghdadia television, hurled his shoe at Bush while shouting: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” Al-Zaidi’s shoe narrowly missed Bush’s ducking head.

Bush laughed off the incident, ignorantly claiming, “I’m not sure what his cause was.” Even before the shoe hit the ground, Bush’s propaganda apparatus and the corporate media were already spinning the act as evidence of Iraq’s progress toward democracy and tolerance of dissidence.

This much-touted tolerance, however, did not prevent Maliki’s guards from dragging al-Zaidi outside and beating him mercilessly. Blood could be seen where guards had tackled al-Zaidi, and witnesses say his cries could be heard for the duration of the news conference.

Al-Zaidi was promptly whisked away to a detention facility for interrogation, and is still being held. The journalist’s brother says al-Zaidi suffered a broken hand, broken ribs, internal bleeding and an eye injury. Al-Zaidi faces charges of “insulting a foreign leader and the Prime Minister of Iraq,” which could land him in prison for seven years.

Al-Zaidi knew full well that he would face severe consequences, but he was determined to give a voice to those who have suffered. Sitting just a few feet away from the man who, for so many, has been the incarnation of the war policy that killed over 1 million Iraqis, and maimed and displaced millions more, al-Zaidi burst Bush’s bubble and effectively ruined his end-of-term victory parade. Who would have thought that the disdain and hatred felt for Bush all over the Arab world and, for that matter, across much of the globe, would fit into a single shoe?

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