Blog   |   Iraq

Iraqi journalist who threw shoes is detained

During a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi called President George Bush a dog as he hurled his shoes at him. Though he missed his target, al-Zaidi was immediately tackled to the ground and restrained by plainclothes security personnel.

I was to start my new job at the Committee to Protect Journalists the next day and anticipated that the incident would generate tremendous media and public interest. And so it was: Overnight, the video was viewed on the Internet well over 2 million times and was shown on thousands of news channels across the world.

Although the incident is not a press freedom case, it raises concerns regarding al-Zaidi's treatment. Video footage from the press conference shows a number of men taking down the Al-Baghdadia journalist. As he was being restrained, one of the men ordered cameras to be turned off. And since al-Zaidi was taken into custody, there have been reports across the news media saying that he suffered a broken hand and other injuries, and that those injuries may or may not have been sustained in the scuffle.

However, this afternoon, The Associated Press quoted the journalist's brother, Maitham al-Zaidi, as saying that he had spoken with the reporter, who declared himself to be in "good health."

While al-Zaidi was not acting as a journalist when he threw his shoes at Bush, he is entitled due process and the full protection of the law. We are alarmed that the video feed was cut as al-Zaidi was being restrained. Al-Zaidi should be allowed access to a lawyer so all these allegations can be clarified. 

Published

Like this article? Support our work

Comments

The reports about his condition are conflicting. One BBC report I read said he had broken bones in his hand and broken ribs. You don't sustain such injuries in a "scuffle"--that's beat-down stuff.

How do we appeal for due process?

Are you for real? Committee to Protect Journalists? Protection from what? Certainly Shoeless al-Zaidi knew what he was doing and now he has the attention he wanted. I am a Middle Eastern-American who has travelled the region most of my life. I am also an American veteran and I served in Iraq. I am familiar with the language and customs and what this foolish man did was stupid and unprofessional. When I spoke to and travelled among Sunni Iraqi’s in western Iraq, they were overwhelmingly in favor of our efforts to rid them of al-Qaeda. Likewise, they enjoy greater autonomous control of al-Anbar now than they did under Saddam Hussein. My friendship and the friendship of American armed forces and diplomatic personnel have gone far in Iraq and will last a life time. Your image and Muntadhar al-Zaidi’s image of Iraqi people seething with anger toward President Bush and the American people is about as false as the journalist who reported smoke from the burn pit at the edge of camp as an IED attack. He got away with it, and now al-Zaidi plans on getting away with this fiasco as you make him out to be a martyr.
I don’t anticipate getting this posted, but here it is.

Being as a journalist , I can not support this kind of unprofessional act by any journalist . He belongs the millions Iraqi people who are suffering a lot for the American aggression in Iraq in the name of protecting the Iraqi people but he definitely crossed his limits violating the code of conduct.
George W Bush did not visit their for any personal ground , he is a president of a country, no one can support any dishonoring of his guest . I don’t support his aggressive foreign policy but he should not be treated in such a unsocial manner especially by a journalist .
I also condemn if any physical or mental torture on him in the name of trial.
Habibullah Mizan
The New Nation
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Regardless of whether you agree with his protest, it is completely unacceptable that this journalist be beaten in custody and denied access to his family or to a lawyer. It appears that he has been subjected to at least police brutality, or perhaps even torture. That this is taking place, under the nose of George W. Bush, in a country that was supposed to have human rights and liberty restored by the US invasion is an indicator of how little has been acheived.

Shoe-ing Bush Out Of Office

Bombing is so passe. Will shoe-throwing replace bombing as device du jour? That would be a step (pun intended) forward.

Civil society in deliberative democracy cannot possibly accept the throwing of shoes as appropriate and effective discourse strategy.

Instead, we can talk. We can listen. We can speak out. We can protest peacefully and non-violently. We can take legal action. We can vote. We can approach our elected representatives. We can persist and persuade. We can speak truth to power until change for the Greater Collective Good (GCG), is real and enduring.

Yet, the shoe as powerful and effective political projectile has caught the popular imagination.

Why?

Because the faltering progress towards civil society and deliberative democracy have to be particularized and contextualized:

Where did the shoe-throwing occur?

By whom?

At whom?

At what event?

What was accomplished?

Most concerned persons know the answers to these questions.

My immediate sense is flinging footwear or at the very least, the shoe metaphor, is perhaps going to catch on in the US. It may become part of the idiom of resistance and dissent against seemingly intractable forces of US militaristic and now financial opportunism. How aptly ironic.

That way, Americans, who are responsible for supporting the invasion and occupation of Iraq will be joining hands, some time in the not too distant future, with their Iraqi victims. That moment of union, of recognition of a common humanity that the US electorate and its elected officials, have failed for seven long years to accord to Iraqis, cannot come a moment too soon.

Chithra KarunaKaran
Ethical Democracy As Lived Practice
http://EthicalDemocracy.blogspot.com

Just heard a news report, al-Zaidi's brother has spoken with him and he relayed an accusation that he was beaten with an iron bar after he was bundled out of the room - you could actually hear his screams while Bush continued the press conference.
He now faces 5-15 years prison.