Where’s the guy who threw shoes at George W. Bush?
On14 December 2008, an Iraqi journalist named Muntazer al Zaidi went into the history of the world using only his shoes.
The Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at the US president and shouted:
“This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, dog.”
This protest by a young Iraqi journalist has become a symbol of the United States’ rejection in the region.
It’s been a long time since this happened. Muntazer al Zaidi, who goes down in history with his shoes, what does he do now?
The incident occurred almost six years after the United States invaded Iraq in search of alleged weapons of mass destruction, which were later found not to exist.
Bush visited the country for the last time before leaving the presidency and offered a press conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad, in which he defended the actions of Washington.
That’s when the Iraqi journalist, who worked for the Egyptian television channel Al-Baghdadia and was then 28 years old, confronted him with the only “weapon” that could have entered the venue: shoes.
Bush managed to dodge the shoes and minimized the action to journalists’ questions. His gesture was praised by the media of his country.
Zeidi was immediately arrested and subjected to a subsequent trial for his action.
For Bush supporters, the gesture was interpreted “as an evil action against a man whose policies liberated the country from a relentless dictator,” the BBC journalist wrote.
Many journalists commented:
“To illustrate this point, at another time, whoever had perpetrated such an act could have been condemned to death, if he had dared to confront in this way the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
For others, however, Zaidi was a ” hero for carrying out a symbolic blow against a person whom they consider responsible for the devastating wars that hit the Muslim world and that have cost hundreds of thousands of lives,” he explained.
Millions of Iraqis and Arabs took to the streets to release Muntazer al Zaidi.
While Zaidi was convicted for “attacking a foreign official” and spent nine months in prison, gifts and praise accumulated outside.
Some gave him medals for his deed; others even made him millionaire offers for his shoes , which also became a sensation.
Even an Egyptian man offered his 20-year-old daughter in marriage.
“It’s something that would honor me, I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I’m linked to this hero,” said the daughter herself in a conversation with Reuters in 2008.
Photographs of the US president dodging the reporter’s shoes were hung on Baghdad walls, in T-shirts in Egypt and even in video games in Turkey, the newspaper T he Guardian reported at the time.
A shoe-shaped statue was even erected in an orphanage in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit .
“Those orphans who helped the sculptor create this monument were victims of Bush’s war ,” the director of the orphanage told CNN in early 2009.
The Iraqi authorities, for their part, destroyed the journalist’s shoes after analyzing them in case they had explosives.
What happened to the journalist?
Zaidi was released in early September 2009 and, when he left, he claimed to have been tortured.
The Iraqi authorities defended that they had treated him fairly and according to the law during his arrest and imprisonment.
Zaidi said that, right after being arrested at the press conference, he was taken to a back part of the building where he was hit with “iron cables”, electrocuted and left “wet” in a cold place without heating until the day next, according to The Washington Post newspaper .
Despite what happened, the reporter never regretted what he did.
“I am not a hero, I just acted like an Iraqi who has witnessed the pain and massacre of too many innocents,” the journalist wrote in an article in The Guardian on September 17, 2009.
“In recent years, more than one million Iraqis have been killed with occupation bullets, and Iraq now has one million widows and hundreds of thousands of orphans.”
Muntazer al Zaidi moved away from his country for a while and devoted himself to activism in Europe and Lebanon.
He also wrote a book called ” The Last Salute To President Bush” (The Last Tribute to President Bush).
After having risen to fame, the journalist recently decided to take a bigger leap and go into politics in his country.
In 2018, he entered an electoral race to gain a position in the Iraqi Parliament.
Zaidi promised in the campaign that he would end ” the thieves and the corrupt, ” he would persecute those who steal money from Iraq “and stop the” waste of public money “.
Unfortunately, he was not successful in politics. He could not see enough attention in the elections, but he continues his journalistic activities.
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