Tag Archives: Muntazar al-Zaidi

“…But You Throw One Shoe…”

Muntazar al-Zaydi is the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at president Bush, yelling the immortal words, “This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog,” and, “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.”

Immediately after his release in September he left the country for medical treatment, then got some love in Switzerland before returning to Iraq.

Now he has established a foundation . Maybe some day he’ll be remembered for something other than the shoe-throwing incident.

The MAZ Foundation being secular and independent of all political and religious institutions intends to bring financial, medical and logistical aid to the victims of the breaches to Human Rights in Iraq. It is also the ambition of the foundation to play a role in the prevention of the violating of Human Rights by giving media coverage to individual and collective tragedies and to making international opinion aware of the suffering of the Iraqi people. The MAZ Foundation also intends to finance all national and international legal actions leading to the acknowledgement of guilt and responsibility for the physical, material and moral prejudice suffered by the civilian population.

Here’s the contact page if you should wish to donate.

And here the immortal words in Arabic, in case you have a use for them:

هذه قبلة الوداع من الشعب العراقي أيها الكلب


وهذه من الأرامل والأيتام والأشخاص الذين قتلتهم

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Muntazar al-Zaidi in Switzerland

AP News has a news article about my favorite show thrower that reads like a blog post. The author/reporter couldn’t resist injecting his own point of view into his article, and for some reason the editor let it run.

He [Muntazar al-Zaidi] condemned the United States, saying it played a role in 1 million deaths and forcing 5 million people to flee. He made no mention of the violence among Iraqi groups since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Did the author/reporter, Bradley S. Klapper, used to write speeches for George W. Bush? Because this sounds exactly like something he’d say. As if, when talking about the US invasion of and years-long @#$%ing of Iraq, it’s unfair not to mention that some of the deaths were at the hands of Iraqis fighting each other as a result of the world-class incompetence of the Bush administration. I think this is an outgrowth of the “fair and balanced” trend in journalism today where if you have a scientist on your show explaining global warming, you must give equal time to whacked out minister or small town board of education member countering that God wouldn’t make the earth any warmer than we can handle.

Most of Iraq’s 2 million international refugees live in neighboring Syria and Jordan, while the International Organization for Migration says a similar number of Iraqis are uprooted inside the country’s borders. About 100,000 Iraqis have suffered violent deaths over the last 6 1/2 years, according to The Iraq Body Count, a London-based group whose figures are widely considered a credible minimum.

And here he’s complaining about al-Zaidi’s accuracy. Klapper provides us with an unattributed estimate of 2 million refugees abroad and a vague, also unattributed estimate of “a similar number” inside Iraq to imply that al-Zaidi is making stuff up. He also gives us a lowball estimate of 100,000 deaths and hopes we won’t notice the word “minimum” right next to the word “credible.”

Al-Zeidi’s reception in Switzerland was noteworthy. While his shoe-throwing act of protest in December made him a hero for many in the Muslim world, there was little public outpouring of support for him when he was released last month in Baghdad.

To back up his claim that al-Zaidi got a lukewarm reception in Iraq, Klapper gives us no facts whatsover. We’re supposed to take his word for it because he’s a news-talking guy.

Here’s a YouTube clip from the news at the time of al-Zaidi’s release last month:

It kind of looks like he’s missing a tooth or two. This one shows a little more of the crowds’ sentiments. They look jubilant to me:

I mean, I can understand that Mr. Klapper wants to make the pinko Swiss look un-American, but what’s his angle, trying to make it sound like Iraqis weren’t happy to see al-Zaidi out of jail?

The article started like this:

The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush leaned back in his chair and soaked in the round of applause.

This was not Baghdad or Damascus or Beirut. This was Geneva, where Muntadhar al-Zeidi was given a hero’s welcome Monday far warmer than the subdued reception in his own homeland.

Again with downplaying the way the Iraqi’s received him. That is so bizarre.

By the way, Muntazar al-Zaydi now has 46,248 fans on his Arabic-language Facebook page.

Here’s a Guardian audio article about the celebrations in Baghdad on the occasion of al-Zaydi’s release.

“It’s a mood of high celebration…”

They do report that it was more subdued than they expected. That could be because it was in the middle of Ramadan. Possibly because al-Zaydi wanted some peace and quiet.

From the Telegraph:

Mr Zaidi returned to his home in the Shia suburb of Sadr City, where relatives had gathered with balloons, banners and sheep to slaughter in his honour.

Scores of people, including local politicians and tribal leaders, joined them for the celebration. “They are very happy and they are singing and dancing,” one of his brothers, Maytin, told The Daily Telegraph. “This is our tradition when someone gets released, we play music and dance.”

Another brother, Uday, said the journalist would be sleeping at an “undisclosed location” and would travel to Greece for treatment on Thursday.

“I congratulate the Iraqi people and the Muslim world and all free men across the world on the release of Muntazer,” said Uday Zaidi. “Every time Bush turns a new page in his life he will find Muntazer’s shoes waiting for him.”

And OMG, I went one click too far, and found this execrable post by Bob Barr saying al-Zaydi should quit whining, because if he had thrown his shoes at President Bush while being a swarthy Iraqi in the United States, he would have been treated much worse, probably including waterboarding (which he says he was treated to in Iraqi prison, too). As if everyone didn’t know that already.

Seriously, it’s unbelievable.

I don’t usually link to assholes, but the commenters are pretty funny. Apparently Bob can’t attract his own kind to his blog.

UPDATE: My apologies to Bob Barr. A little bird suggested that my sarcasm meter must have gone out of whack, as Barr’s whole post was a work of sarcasm. I am disappointed in myself, since sarcasm was the only language my family spoke at home.

Also, if parts of this post appear to missing, blame WordPress. I don’t know what’s going on with that.

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Iraqi Shoe Thrower to be Released Early

Muntazar al-Zaydi will be released.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi’s act during Bush’s last visit to Iraq as president turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world amid anger over the 2003 invasion.

He has been in custody since the Dec. 14 outburst, which occurred as Bush was holding a joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

He was initially sentenced to three years after pleading not guilty to assaulting a foreign leader, then the court reduced it to one year because the journalist had no prior criminal history.

Defense attorney Karim al-Shujairi said al-Zeidi will now be released on Sept. 14, three months early.

shoe newspaper arabic

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Three Years in Prison for Shoe-Thrower

Iraqi journalist Muntazar al-Zaidi, the man who did what millions of people would have liked to have done, was sentenced to three years in prison. His lawyers plan to appeal. After all

Zaidi’s relatives accused the Iraqi government of hypocrisy. They asked why American security contractors and Iraqi politicians had yet to be tried for alleged crimes while Zaidi faced charges.

“Nobody summoned [guards with the U.S. security firm] Blackwater for what they did to Iraqis. [Parliament member] Mohammed Daini, who is suspected of killing dozens of Iraqis, is in Baghdad now. Why are they not able to detain him? Why do they do this with Muntather Zaidi,” demanded his uncle, Haidar abu Karra.

What I like about this story is that it is clear that Iraqis have a national identity, contrary to what many politicians and most of the media have been trying to tell us since we went in and busted up the place.

Reporting from Baghdad — “Long live Iraq,” Muntather Zaidi declared in court today, according to his lawyers, after a judge sentenced the improbable hero of Iraqi nationalists to three years in prison for hurling his shoes at former President George W. Bush.

“This is an American court. Those are their agents,” family members and supporters chanted. “Down, down to Iraqi judiciary. Down, down [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki. Zaidi is a hero.”

Sobbing relatives and his lawyers vowed to appeal the ruling, which appeared to tap patriotic fervor in Iraq six years after the U.S.-led invasion. Many lived vicariously through the oft-televised footage of Zaidi’s deed at a Dec. 14 news conference held by Maliki with Bush, in his last visit as president.

“There is an honorable motive behind what he has done,” Saadi said. “This is a shoe [thrown] toward the president of the occupying state and not the tons of rockets and bombs that the Americans hit the Iraqis with!”

People rallied to Zaidi after the verdict. Iraq’s journalist union called on Maliki to pardon the reporter. Two lawmakers with Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr’s nationalist political movement attended the trial in a show of solidarity.

Sort of along those lines, this Los Angeles Times article reports that some Iraqis are deciding not to try to go to the US, after all.

The local news, meanwhile, reports on America’s economic woes, of foreclosed homes being auctioned off for a pittance. Word filters back from Iraqis in the U.S. who are unable to find work, struggling to afford medical care, and devouring savings that once seemed everlasting.

“It used to be that going to America was a dream. No more,” said Raheem, 56, a former teacher and experienced reporter who is one of the local cast of journalists, interpreters, drivers, guards, technicians and general fix-it men and women who have kept The Times running here since the war began.

Now the economic aspect invariably creeps into the conversation. One rumor making the rounds is that things in the United States are so bad, new refugees could be sent to Guam.

“Life here has been difficult. We did not arrive at the perfect time,” one former Times staffer wrote last month from his new home on the icy East Coast.

By the time most applicants had gone through the requisite Department of Homeland Security checks, interviews and medical exams, the U.S. stock market had begun to tank. Iraq’s government, meanwhile, had begun making life here more attractive by giving pay raises to civil servants, many of whom juggle their state jobs with work for American news and nongovernmental organizations.

Even with unemployment in Iraq officially at 18% — far higher than in America — Iraqis are eligible for monthly food rations no matter what their income. In a society where bank loans and credit cards are virtually unheard of, most people own their homes outright. And many Iraqis are flush with cash after years of having little to spend money on.

And Muntazar al-Zaidi is up to 47,162 fans on Facebook today.



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Law-Talking Guy* Makes Good Case

Today’s LA Times had more information on Iraqi icon Muntazar al-Zaidi’s case in court. His lawyers have good arguments.

Zaidi’s legal team, more than 20 lawyers who jostled for space around the pen, cited two principal reasons why their client should not have been charged.

Bush was a drop-in guest, they said, not an official visitor to Iraq, hence he should not face charges of assaulting a visiting dignitary. Second, they maintained that because the act occurred in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, Bush was not technically visiting Iraq at the time.

To back up that first assertion, here’s an AP article from last year:

On a whirlwind trip shrouded in secrecy and marred by dissent, President George W. Bush on Sunday hailed progress in the wars that define his presidency and got a size-10 reminder of his unpopularity when a man hurled two shoes at him during a news conference in Iraq.

Back to the LA Times article:

It was the hottest ticket in town. It drew spectators from as far off as Sweden and sparked a scramble for choice seats. Police formed human chains to block crowds that surged forward to glimpse the star attraction: a defiant-looking man in black loafers.

As the defendant entered the courtroom, applause erupted and most spectators stood up, either to get a better look or to express support. Zaidi glanced at the crowd but remained poker-faced.

Pandemonium erupted when the session adjourned. Friends and relatives rushed to the pen, hoping to touch or kiss Zaidi. Courtroom guards yelled at the crowd to behave and leave the room.

In the corridor outside, police linked arms and formed human chains to prevent hundreds of onlookers from closing in on Zaidi. He waved at the mostly cheering crowd and raised his fist in the air before disappearing down the staircase, surrounded by guards.

I am staying tuned for future developments.

*Simpsons reference.
Hutz: I move for a bad court thingy.
Judge Snyder [modeled on Robert Bork]: You mean a mistrial.
Hutz: Right!! That’s why you’re the judge and I’m the law-talking guy.
Judge: You mean the lawyer?
Hutz: Right.

Er, your honor...

"Er, your honor..."

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Shoe-Thrower’s Trial Postponed

The man with the golden arm, Muntazar al-Zaidi, was in court yesterday.

In his first public appearance since his arrest, Mr Zaidi was met in court by applause, ululating and chanting.

He appeared fit and well, despite reports from friends and family that he was badly beaten shortly after his arrest.

But a BBC reporter who saw Mr Zaidi at close quarters said his right front tooth was missing.

The Iraqi TV reporter achieved global notoriety by his actions, which were celebrated across the Arab world.

Not just the Arab world. And as of today, he has 43,353 fans on Facebook.

In court in Baghdad, Mr Zaidi requested two more lawyers to be added to his already huge defence team, and the judge ordered a short break to consider the request.

The judge later adjourned the trial until 12 March, saying the court needs time to ask the Iraqi cabinet whether Mr Bush’s visit was “formal or informal”, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The trial is not expected to last long, as the sequence of events is not in dispute.

Mr Zaidi threw two shoes at Mr Bush during a press conference in Baghdad on 15 December.

He shouted that Mr Bush was “a dog” and the shoes were “a farewell kiss” from those who had been killed, orphaned or widowed in Iraq.

Mr Zaidi was arrested and has been held in custody ever since.

His actions were condemned by the Iraqi government as “shameful”, but he was celebrated as a hero by thousands in the Arab world, who called for his immediate release from prison.

The longer they keep him in jail, the more they add to his glory and make a hero of him. Now people are copying him in other countries,” he said.

Update: now he has 43,581 fans on Facebook.

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