07 April 2009

Iraqi Shoe-Thrower's Sentence Reduced.

BAGHDAD, April 7, 2009 (UPI)
Shoe-thrower Muntazer al-Zaidi. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty
Muntadhar al-Zaidi's sentence for throwing his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush has been reduced to a year, his lawyer said Tuesday in Iraq.

A federal appeals court in Baghdad Monday reduced the iraqi journalist's sentence from three years, said Dhiaa al-Saadi, who had appealed the sentenced handed down last month by Iraq's Central Criminal Court.

Bush ducked and was not injured when al Zaidi, 30, threw his shoes during a press conference in Baghdad last December.

Al-Zaidi, who worked for al-Baghdadia TV, was convicted of assaulting a foreign head of state on an official visit to Iraq. Throwing shoes at someone is considered a serious insult in Middle East culture, CNN reported Tuesday.

The shoe-throwing incident made al-Zaidi a hero in the eyes of many critics of the Bush administration. Al-Zaidi now has a global fan base of supporters on the Internet social networking site Facebook, where one of the fan groups is called the "Shoe-Throwing Appreciation Society," CNN reported.


guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 March 2009 12.05 GMT

by: Alexandra Topping

"Muntadar Al-Zaidi Awarded the US Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama" by: Ben Heine.

Profile: Muntazer al-Zaidi

Journalist who threw shoes at George Bush described as champion of 'poor and downtrodden victims of war'

Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi reporter sentenced to three years' jail this morning for throwing his shoes at the then US president George Bush during a Baghdad press conference, is a 30-year-old broadcast correspondent for the private al-Baghdadia TV station.

He was raised in Sadr City, a suburb of Baghdad, has a degree in communication from Baghdad University and began working as a reporter for al-Baghdadia in 2005. He is of Shia Muslim faith and single.

Zaidi was kidnapped by unknown assailants in November 2007 and badly beaten before being released. In January last year his apartment was searched and he was arrested by American troops. After being held overnight he was released with an apology.

Zaidi has been lauded throughout the Arab world for his actions, receiving support from his employer, and gaining cult status across the Middle East. Following his arrest, al-Baghdadia TV issued a statement demanding his release.

An online game, Sock and Awe inspired by his actions, has been played by thousands, with a total of 88,997,757 shoes hitting Bush in the face as of this morning.

After the incident, the journalist's brother, Udai al-Zaidi, said: "Thanks be to God, Muntazer's act fills Iraqi hearts with pride. I'm sure many Iraqis want to do what Muntazer did."

Another brother, Dhirgham, said Zaidi had been badly affected by what he had seen during the Iraq war. "He hates the American material occupation as much as he hates the Iranian moral occupation," he said.

Sami Ramadani, a political exile from Saddam Hussein's regime and a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University, wrote in the Guardian that Zaidi "reported for al-Baghdadia on the poor and downtrodden victims of the US war. He was first on the scene in Sadr City and wherever people suffered violence or severe deprivation.

"He not only followed US Apache helicopters' trails of death and destruction, but he was also among the first to report every 'sectarian' atrocity and the bombing of popular market places. He let the victims talk first."

In February Zaidi told the Baghdad central criminal court that his actions were spontaneous, and he had only thrown his shoes after listening to Bush praise the "achievements" made in Iraq,

"While he was talking I was looking at all his achievements in my mind. More than a million killed, the destruction and humiliation of mosques, violations against Iraqi women, attacking Iraqis every day and every hour.

"A whole people are saddened because of his policy, and he was talking with a smile on his face – and he was joking with the prime minister and saying he was going to have dinner with him after the press conference.

"Believe me, I didn't see anything around me except Bush. I was blind to anything else. I felt the blood of the innocent people bleeding from beneath his feet and he was smiling in that way.

"And then he was going to have a dinner, after he destroyed one million martyrs, after he destroyed the country. So I reacted to this feeling by throwing my shoes. I couldn't stop the reaction inside me. It was spontaneous."



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