Friday, December 19, 2008

"Shall I take off my shoe?"

I think it is fitting that Sunni Arabs have embraced Muntathar al Zaidi, the journalist who bid farewell to President Bush by throwing his shoes at him during his last press conference in Baghdad. Generally speaking, the Sunni Arabs love the Shia who fight the Americans and Israelis. Otherwise we are considered traitors and/or apostates.

I hope he is released immediately, as this would show the world that Iraqis really are free, even free to embarrass their Prime Minister. Embarrassing President Saddam Hussein like that would have had deadly consequences for an Iraqi journalist with that kind of fortitude. Moreover, I believe that Iraqis have a right to be angry with President Bush, who could have fired Rumsfeld sooner, could have sent more troops sooner, could have done something about Blackwater sooner, could have planned the invasion, security, and reconstruction better.

Zaidi was merely expressing his deep dissatisfaction with Mr. Bush, and although he did it in a way that embarrassed many Iraqis, the act of throwing your shoes at another person, or beating that person with your shoe because you are very angry with him, is endemic in Iraqi society. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit this, but when my siblings and I were being bad kids, not obeying my parent's orders, they would often threaten us by asking "enza3 in3ali?" (shall I take of my slipper?), or even worse: "enza3 qundarti?" (shall I take off my shoe?). They rarely carried out this threat, but I do remember a few times when a slipper or shoe would be launched in our direction when my parents were extremely annoyed. I think that talking, or even yelling at a person, is a better way to show dissatisfaction with that person.

Sunnis embrace Shi'ite who threw shoes at Bush
December 20, 2008 - 11:10AM

The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W Bush intends to press charges against the people he says beat him up as he was taken into custody, says a member of the Iraqi parliament urging his release.

Bahaa al-Araji, a member of parliament from a party tied to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said journalist Muntathar al-Zaidi on Friday presented his case that he was beaten to an Iraqi judge.

Zaidi's outburst at a news conference that Bush held with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday has sparked rallies all around the country, and now Sunni leaders are lionising the Shi'ite journalist.

Facing charges of attacking a head of state, Zaidi could be sentenced to as many as 15 years in jail. Zaidi's family wants him tried under a different law that would carry a maximum sentence of two years, his brother said.

Araji joined more than 70 protesters outside Baghdad's International Zone, a secure area that includes the parliament and Maliki's residence. Araji said Zaidi should appear in court no later than Thursday.

"We know that the judges themselves feel for him and, God willing, he will be with his family soon," Araji said. "Tomorrow we will submit a formal request that Zaidi should be allowed visits by his family."


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