December 16th, 2008
11:15 AM ET
5 years ago

Iraqis urge government to free shoe-thrower

 TV reporter Muntadhar al-Zaidi, in a file photo, was jailed after throwing his shoes at President Bush.
TV reporter Muntadhar al-Zaidi, in a file photo, was jailed after throwing his shoes at President Bush.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - Protesters across Iraq Tuesday urged government authorities to free the TV correspondent who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush.

Hundreds of students at Diyala University in Baquba carried banners demanding the release of Muntadhar al-Zaidi - described by demonstrators as an "honorable Iraqi."

Smaller protests emerged in the Anbar province city of Falluja and in two Baghdad locations - Baghdad University in the northern part of the city and western Baghdad's Ameriya district. In those events, students also took to the streets.

Al-Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush, while Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki were holding a Sunday news conference after the president's surprise visit to Baghdad. The journalist was dragged to the ground, hustled out of the room and arrested.

Shouting as he was dragged to the floor, the reporter called his shoe-throwing - a traditional insult in Arab culture - a "farewell kiss" to a "dog" who launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Dhirgham al-Zaidi, the shoe-thrower's brother, said the journalist hated the "material American occupation" and Iranian influence in Iraq.

Full story


Filed under: Iraq • President Bush
soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. obama-mama

    Release him and have a party for him....I say they invite Bush & Cheney and boot the crap out of them...lol......Bush's dog didn't get put to sleep for biting the reporter. He didn't have to go to court for it. Let that brave man go......

    December 16, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. Debby, NJ

    He only did what most of us wish we could have done...let the man go.

    December 16, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. CanIcallyouJoe

    All this proves to me is that the Iraqis are a great people and this man desperately needs more shoes.

    If only humans had three legs, he might have hit him....
    ... stupid evolution.

    December 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Kathie, Houston, TX

    Just let the guy be. For crying out loud, he did what the majority of americans and the majority of the world has wanted to do for the past 8 years. If anything, this guy deserves a medal!!!!

    December 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Get over it

    Interesting.

    If he had thrown that shoe at Saddam;

    1) He would have been executed.
    2) His wife would have been killed.
    3) His children would have been killed.
    4) His parents, brothers and sisters and other relatives would have been killed.
    5) Everyone in is home town probably would have been killed.

    After all this has all happened before under Saddam.

    Amazing what Bush did to give him that FREEDOM and he doesn't even realize it.

    All of you Bush haters don't know how good you've got it.

    December 16, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Josh

    Shoe throwing is also a tradition among guests on the Jerry Springer show. Last time I checked, none of them deserved any praise or respect, either.

    Seriously, people, why is it that we excuse primitive behavior when it happens to be directed at someone we dislike? We talk about civil society and then respond with glee when somebody behaves like they just climbed down out of the tree branches.

    December 16, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. STEVE R

    and when or if this happens to Obama?

    this guy would be a racist............

    but yeah......why did this never happen to Saddam? Short minded fools. who helped in giving them this freedom?...they sure did not have the sack to do it themselves.....did they?

    December 16, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  8. Don

    YES! Free him! Bush cannot wipe the blood of his hands of several thousand Americans (not to mention 10s of thousands of wounded), THOUSANDS of Iraquis. Destroying the economy, illegal wire taps of American citizens, torture, now trying to destroy the animal ecology, thousands of Americans out of work and thousands more to come, throwing the Consititution in the fire..............the list just goes on forever.

    I'm just sorry he did not hit him square in the mouth, so he had to wear a fat lip during the rest of his REICH. Not an American, not even a Communist or Fascist, GEE what does that leave besides a Republican and a ..............?

    And I do not need over paid little mamby pamby reporters from CNN or MSN telling me I should be offended by this. I am not offended! The shoe thrower was right. The reporters need to quit being Fruit Loops and start reporting on how America really feels!

    Am I PO'ed. YOU BETCHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 16, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  9. Cori from Colorado

    Free the man! He was just doing what most people have been wanting to do anyway. He did us a favor.

    I like the idea (from Mobius) of NIKE hiring him for a super bowl ad this coming season, that would be great!!! Then Bush can offer him a pardon! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

    December 16, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  10. Kurt in TX, "The Not-So-Proud Home of 'W'"

    I'm loving it! Wish I could get close enough to throw a shoe at the worst Prez in U.S. history, but I now remember. You can't get close enough since Bush created so-called "Free Speech Zones" – out of sight from ordinary citizens who protested his eight years of shameful leadership. I salute al-Zaidi and the thousands of Iraqis who want our troops out of their homeland – a place we never should have been in the first place!

    December 16, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. sunshine

    THE IRAQ WAR IS A SHAME AND A DISGRACE, BUT THROWING SHOES IS NO ANSWER.

    December 16, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. Obama

    Obama should say something, as an American and a Christian. He is proud of his Christian faith, and record of regular church attendance, as well as the teaching of the Bible. This nation/constitution is built on the Biblical truth/foundation. If he were a Muslim, probably he could not be elected. Stand up, American people, and be proud of every signle true 100% American citizen, in the tradition of Washington, Abraham Licoln and Ronald Reagan!

    December 16, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. Karen - Atlanta

    I am willing to sign a petition to free this man. This is what happens when we push our democratic ideas on other countries. The shoe thrower has done what many of us would like to do to President Bush and Cheney. In President Bush's final days in office, he would pardon this gentlemen as a act of kindness and perhaps his Presidential ratings would sore to 30%. Please forward the shoe throwers location so we can send him a new pair of shoes.

    December 16, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    too bad he didn't hit Bush right in his smug puss.

    December 16, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Empty suit, empty promises

    Like you gutless cowards suffering from BDS this guy doesn't get it.

    Imagine if he did this to Saddam, whaddya think, feet first into the wood chipper, NOPE, he would have went HEAD first.

    Bush is a dolt, but he did more to protect us than his predecessor who was ahem, "busy" with interns.

    Under Billyboy we had multiple US installations bombed and he did bleep about it, Bush could have taken the same tact but chose to attack instead of being the attackee ANYMORE.

    I could bore you with a FULL PAGE of EXACT quotes from your beloved Lemocrats, the UN and other countries that ALL said and thought what Bush thought so SAVE the BDS that he lied.

    NO fan of Bush at this address, but the facts are the facts and this puke has the ability to throw a shoe at OUR President, because this PRESIDENT made the harsh decison to do something besides get a little love under the desk.

    December 16, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. Matt

    @ Michelle in Seattle

    Sorry, but physical violence is and should be a restricted form of "speech" in any culture (if it even still remains "speech" other than being an unacceptable form of expression). You can only push the PC acceptance of "cultural differences" so far before it gets silly. There's still a baseline we should all be seeking.

    That being said, I still wish one of the shoes landed.

    December 16, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Fernandez

    This has confirmed my belief that this Iraqi is coward. Would he have done this during Sadaam's rule, this guy would have been shot immediately. This is freedom

    December 16, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. Joel

    The words FREEDOM, FREE-MARKET, DEMOCRACY are highly over-rated in the western world. These words cannot justify any need to occupy some other country...

    December 16, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. GREG

    I'm only sorry he missed.

    A press photo of al-Zaidi's shoe connecting with Bush's head, would have been a priceless one for the ages. It wouldn't scratch a scratch of the surface of how stupefyingly dark and evil the Bush admin is, but it would make people feel better.

    A fitting exeunt to a tyranical war criminal. al-Zaidi's a folk hero in my book.

    I recommend that GWB do a whole lot more public appearances in Iraq. With the flood of expected shoes, someone's bound to score.

    December 16, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  20. Chris

    I think any one in this country would do the same thing if they saw all the innocent killing that was done due to this war, and to have the person who was the catalyst in front of you basically flip it off like it was nothing. He should be happy a shoe is the only thing that was thrown at him.

    Folks remember this is the President that sat in front of Couric and said "SO" when asked about the loss of innocent lives in Iraq!!!

    December 16, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    Here we are back to Sadam era tactics. Dissent? get tortured and go to jail. All that time money and lives and nothing has changed just the people in charge.

    December 16, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Once Your Vote Black

    They should free this guy. He was just expressing himself. Besides we got the better end of the deel. We killed his family, all he got was 2 missed tosses at a bobbel head. Give the guy a break, besides, Bush thought the whole thing was funny.

    December 16, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  23. Limbaugh is my Saviour

    Gee,I thought they loved us and would only throw flowers.

    December 16, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. Linda K.

    To JJ12345:

    If President obama lies us into a war of aggression and ruins our economy (or what's left of it) then you can feel free to throw shoes at him.

    December 16, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. Chi Town

    I smiled and smiled big...
    Freedom has arrived in Iraq... victory for our military and mission accomplished. I feel better now about leaving when the time comes. This is huge... no where in the middle east could this have happend without dire result to the person. Under Saddam he wouldn't have dared do this... and would have been killed, his family stripped of all wealth and jailed or killed as well. As it is... the man was able to publicly protest without loss of life... on a world stage.

    The best thing President Bush could have said after would have been "Sir, you are very welcome"!

    Great day for Iraq and America... Freedom is alive...

    December 16, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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