Throwing your shoes at George W. Bush is all the rage in the Arab blogosphere. Our Observer in Baghdad tells us that the journalist behind the brogue hurling incident has become something of an icon in Iraq.
Journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi stood up at a farewell conference on Sunday and hurled one, and then the other, of his shoes at the outgoing president (see video below). "This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is a farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!" he shouted. Showing the soles of your shoes (especially in a rapid hurling motion...) is considered a grave insult in the Arab world. But Bush didn't seem phased: "If you want the facts, it's a size ten shoe that he threw", he said in response. An immediate hit all over the world, the incident has become something of a phenomenon on the Arabic net, with various versions of the footage quickly appearing online, including mock video games, caricatures and music video clips. A Facebook group entitled Muntazer al-Zaidi, Hero Journalist has already attracted over 5,000 members in 24 hours and Arabic news sites and forums, Al-Jazeera for example, have been inundated with excited comments from Web users. And yet, Bush still hasn't got the message. His thoughts on the event: "The guy wanted to get on TV and he did. I don't know what his beef is...".
Mohammed is a dentist from Baghdad. He writes the blog Last of Iraqis.
Anyways, today I went to work as usual and all the people I saw were very very happy, it was like a national celebration... A female patient came to me for a filling and as we were waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect she said: 'do you know doc. Yesterday was an Eid to me; I haven't celebrated Eid for the past three years because the Americans "accidentally" killed my husband and son; and Bush is the reason why they are here, so yesterday some of my revenge was taken'. All the staff said the same thing: 'a statue should be built for Muntathar'. In fact many of them have used the photo of Muntathar as a background for their mobiles (...)."