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. Boonta

    I find it sad and pathetic that people find this amusing. If you look at it, this shoe guy was a founding member of a newspaper in 2005. Do you think they had free speech and newspapers under Saddam? I don't think so, other than regulated news. Its disrespectful, its outrageous, and I hope he is tried like you and I would be tried in America. President Bush has made a lot of mistakes, but he did provide Iraqi's with freedom. Does this guy have a voice under Saddam? No. Does this man sit in front of two Presidents if it weren't for GWB? No. You can hate the President all you want, but he did give the Iraqi's freedom of speech. And for that, he gets a shoe thrown at him.

    December 16, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. Eugene

    Bring him to Boston. The Red Sox need a right-hander to match the Yankees' new acquisitions. See "Yankees Sign Iraqi Hurler"–funny!

    December 16, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. Bob

    Bush made a mistake here. He should have told the Secret Service agents to release him, and then heard him out. That would have deflated the blow up of this story. The benefit would have been, Bush would have learned something.

    December 16, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. dave

    Go ahead and imprison him. It makes him a martyr and elevates his actions to hero status. More hearts and minds are swayed away from what Bush and the USA stand for. And all we'll have to show for it is our empty smug satisfaction that some guy in Iraq is in jail. Seems like a terrible tradeoff.

    December 16, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Mary

    Let the man go...freedom of speech!!!

    December 16, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  6. Once Your Vote Black

    This is an act of war. Oh wait a min. We are already at war with them. Would people be upset if this happend an Hussain of our own? Well yes, but that is because he did not destroy a nation that did not attack us. Facts matter JJ12345.

    December 16, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. greedyboy

    I have read that if this had happened when SH was in power, a shoe thrown at him, that person would have been killed already. Proof that Iraq is a better place. On the other hand, pull the troops, get our brave soldiers back home safely, and let happen, what will happen, in Iraq.

    December 16, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Mike, Syracuse NY

    To all those calling this guy a hero, don't you realize that by attacking our President he is insulting all Americans? Whether you like Bush or not, he's still President of the United States. The office DEMANDS respect. Are you Americans first, and political partisans second; or the other way around?

    December 16, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  9. Brittany

    I'm sure many Americans would LOVE to throw something at President Bush. This Iraqi just did what we don't have the courage to. Granted, Bush is the PRESIDENT, but he threw a SHOE at him! 2 years in prison is a little harsh.

    December 16, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  10. ran

    Bush is the one who should be in jail.

    December 16, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. NYC Native

    Is it too late to award him the Nobel Peace Prize?

    December 16, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Abyssinian Lion

    He should be freed. I believe that many years ago Americans participated in a symbolic gesture against Tyranny. The dumped their teas in the ocean to protest unfair taxation of King George. al-Zeidi protested with a shoe against the Tyranny of a ridiculous war caused by Pres George that has killed nearly one Million Iraqi citizens. WE TREAT THOSE AMERICANS AS HEROS, who can deny he is a hero to his people? (my her too!)

    December 16, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Dr. Stoner

    So much for graditude from a bunch of bigots and ethnic clenzers, back stabbers and cowards. Though not all of the above mentioned vein, most are just gutless men that beat their woman and strap bombes to mentally handicaped. I'm am not a fan of this Iraqi War nor George Bushwacker. But this is a demonstration of Iraqi's graditude, Arabs are character flawed by nature so says Mohammid, thats why their Relgious Laws are so brutal. Next time, we should just Nuke the Pukes and the world will be one less danger zone. Death to Bin Laden and his puke faced friends.

    December 16, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. Greg in AR

    Where was the Secret Service???

    The shoes could have easily been a knife or a bomb.

    GWB needs to have the kitchen sink thrown at him but the President of the United States deserves to be protected, even if he is a scum-bag.

    December 16, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Libby, Reston, VA

    We would be encouraged to throw shoes at Hitler, right? W is Hitler to the Iraqis – he invaded their country for no good reason.

    Sure, Hussein was a tyrant, but many of our allies are also run by tyrants.

    December 16, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. mary dale

    I hope they let him go, maybe restrict him in media circuses when enemies of the state, like Bush, show up. I would also like to throw something at Bush, not a shoe but something softer.

    December 16, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. Well oh well

    While I disagreed with the entire war in Iraq and dislike Bush, the war happened. This gentleman had the "freedom" to be able to throw a shoe at the President of the US. He will get what will likely be a slap on the wrist (after his broken arm and ribs heal) for this act he commited, but he does deserve punishment. Had he thrown his shoe at Saddam, he would likely be dead by now along with his entire family.
    Now it is very obvious that we are not wanted there so we should be leaving!

    December 16, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. Matt

    Popular opinion should not determine the manner in which the law is applied.

    December 16, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  19. Vince

    NO JJ the opinion will not change if the shoe gets thrown at Obama. But he won't be a blood-thirsty war criminal...so it's not likely to happen.

    December 16, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  20. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    He wasn't arrested for throwing his shoes at Bush.
    He was arrested because the shoes almost hit Malaki!
    Either way, I think that what he did was uncalled for.

    But I have to admit, it was funny as hell !!!! And notice that Bush ducked them like it was nothing. Maybe he's been getting his training from Laura? :)

    December 16, 2008 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  21. MD

    Ungrateful as this journalist is, this is due in part to American journalism which encourages disrespect for the US Presidency. This is just the beginning. Obama will face the same thing in a few months.

    December 16, 2008 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    Bush was lucky they weren't high heels. Yet if he can get a laugh out of it, then why not let the guy go.

    think we could get him to throw his shoes at Palin and Joe the Plumber??

    December 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. What if shoe were on other foot?

    How would you feel if it were President Obama?

    December 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  24. Brian from Fort Mill, SC

    Somebody should invent a new type of shoe, one that comes back to you when you throw it! :)

    December 16, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  25. dave

    i wonder if he ever thew a shoe at saddam or his barbaric family?
    I am sure he would be better off today if we would have stayed out of his country. ungrateful idiot!

    December 16, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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