Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finally . . . .

(Updated below)

Finally, some good news out of Iraq, by way of McClatchy:

Iraqi who threw shoes at Bush released to hero's welcome
Hannah Allam | McClatchy Newspapers | September 15, 2009

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at then-President George W. Bush last year was freed from prison Tuesday, expressing no remorse for hurling what he called a "flower to the occupier."

Muntathar al Zaidi received a hero's welcome at the offices of his employer, al Baghdadiya television station, where his colleagues slaughtered sheep and danced in celebration of his release. Originally a three-year term for assaulting a head of state, Zaidi's sentence was reduced and he was released early because he had no criminal record.

Sporting a dark suit and a scarf printed with the Iraqi flag, a paler and thinner Zaidi told a news conference that Iraqi guards tortured him with whippings and electric shocks during his nine-month detention. He was missing at least one front tooth.


Zaidi said the years of witnessing war's brutalities as a journalist built up inside him and exploded last Dec. 14, when Bush gave a farewell news conference alongside Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki in Baghdad. Zaidi interrupted Bush's remarks by throwing his shoes at the president, shouting the words that earned him admiration and notoriety around the globe: "This is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

Bush ducked the flying shoes, and the episode quickly went viral via YouTube, spawning online shoe-throwing games, parodies, folk songs and poetry. A wealthy Saudi reportedly offered millions for the shoes, Arab women have written love letters to Zaidi and a statue of a giant shoe was erected in Saddam Hussein's hometown before the Iraqi government ordered it removed.

al Zaidi should be given the keys to the city and a statue erected in his honour . . . .

Mutadhar al-Zaidi's statement after being released from prison is here.

(Cross-posted from Moved to Vancouver)

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