March 13th, 2009
11:50 AM ET
14 years ago

Shoe-thrower fans unite online

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A Lebanese student in Beirut attends a December rally to support the shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist."]
(CNN) - They've sung his praises on social networking pages, calling him a "hero," "the greatest man of our time," "a legend." They've said he deserves to be knighted and should be decorated with medals. They've cried out for his amnesty and have even proposed serving time for him.

The man many hundreds of thousands of Facebook users honor is no other than Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for hurling his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush.

The double-whammy size 10 shoe toss, neither of which hit Bush, took place in December at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq. In many traditional Middle East circles, throwing shoes at someone is considered a grave insult.

To do this to an American president surrounded by Secret Service agents, no less, was as shocking to riveted viewers who watched the footage later as it was to the president himself.

"First of all, it's got to be one of the most weird moments of my presidency," Bush said later. "Here I am getting ready to answer questions from the free press in a democratic Iraq, and a guy stands up and throws his shoe. ... I'm not angry with the system. I believe that a free society is emerging, and a free society is necessary for our own security and peace."

Expressing their own freedom on Facebook, a worldwide fan base rose up to laud al-Zaidi's actions. They formed hundreds of fan pages and groups, big and small, serious and light. One is even called the "Shoe-Throwing Appreciation Society."

Full story

Filed under: Facebook • Iraq • President George W. Bush
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jeff in Houston

    Perhaps he did break some law. By the letter of the law, something should be done or the law becomes meaningless (you know, like under George Bush....but I digress).

    But is there a single, rational, educated American that, on some level, does not want to hug this man and buy him a beer? I would. I would talk to him about his aim needing some improvement, but I would buy him that beer.

    March 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  2. Peter E

    3 years? Well, at least it demonstrates how lenient America is towards criminals. Most countries would have shot this man on the spot if he tried it on their leader.
    Do you know how many people in the world would gladly spend 3 years in prison for an opportunity to throw shoes at their leader?

    March 13, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  3. TM in CO

    I can name at least one that would not do what Jeff said. This man is a coworker of mine and has gone so far as to name his poor dog GW. I think the punishment is a bit harsh unless they are actually punishing him for missing GW in the first place!!!

    March 13, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  4. JDC

    The shoe thrower should remind us what a waste it was to help Iraquis get rid of their tyrant leader...their ingratitude.

    March 13, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. RAG

    I think he shoud have a statue on the national mall in his honor. Something like those old cast iron penny banks. You could pull a lever and he would throw another shoe at a statue of George Bush. Or better yet, George Bush himself in a cage.

    March 13, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. chuck

    The people who say that he was only expressing freedom of speech need their heads examined. Free speech comes from the mouth, not the fist. If shoes had been hurled at any of these people expressing solidarity with this shoe thrower I think they would formulate different opinions about free speech and violence. Since the shoe missed they called it free speech. What would they call it if the shoe had actually hit the President? What would they call it if the shoe put out one of their own eyes? Not free speech I'm sure. As disgusting as this president was to billions of people all over the world including almost 70% of Americans by the time he left office, this shoe throwing incident was an affront to all law loving individuals on the planet. He should have been throwing the shoes at insurgents. They are the ones who escalted the violence against their own people for one dumb reason or another. It is O.K. to share this mans anger, but please use the accepted avenues of dissent and leave thepolished and laced projectiles at home.

    March 13, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  7. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    This man will forever be my hero for "speaking" on behalf of hundreds of millions around the world. Sad that he will be in prison as Bush counts the spoils of war as someone ghost writes his "memoirs" for him.

    March 13, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. Kevin in Ohio

    Chuck, completely on point. But liberals worship thugs like this. If we threw a shoe at Obama, can you even imagine what the outcry would be? I wonder if the ACLU would defend it as "free speech".........

    March 13, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. antillian

    People if your country gets invaded under the guise of FREEDOM(oil...oil...oil), hundreds of thousands of your(Iraqis) fellow countrymen get killed(not the isurgents but the woman and children), your country left as a empry shell. And a whack job responsible for it comes to town...believe me the last prez was lucky it was "just a shoe".

    And for Americans to keep blasting everybody for the freedom of speech crap.........guess what this Iraqi didn't get that freedom.

    Bush could have told Maliki to be gentle or grant him liniency like he wanted for war criminal Rove.


    March 13, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Jacqui

    I believe that the sentence sent a strong message to all citizens that you must have respect for authority. I do not believe that he did himself, his family or his country any good by carrying out this terrible thing.
    I do believe that there were things that Mr Bush did wrong, but I still think that he should have been respected as the leader of the free world.

    March 13, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. as a pinko leftist wacko liberal

    I am really divided on this one

    I am for free speech for Americans, but the rest of the world? not when it comes to my President, and even though I didn't like him, Bush was my President

    March 13, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. antillian

    To JDC:

    Nobody in the world asked you to "help" America decided it for itself and treathend any in the world who stood in their way.

    That Tyrant that America put there in Iraq maybe killed a thousand or two a really want me to compare that number to the actual body count of Iraqis in the last seven years.

    get your facts straight before spouting the same tripe.

    March 13, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Expat American

    Iskandriya, Haditha, Hamdaniya, Tikrit, Mahmudiya, Ishaqi:

    And this man gets 3 years for throwing a shoe at Bush?

    March 13, 2009 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |