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...".
Email or post your own shoe to the White House…
Hurl-your-shoe-at-Bush mock videogame
A field day for Flickr users
"Today was like a national celebration"
Mohammed is a dentist from Baghdad. He writes the blog Last of Iraqis.
Bush is a great criminal who directly or indirectly killed and ruined the lives of thousands of people - both Iraqi and American - and it hurt me to see him walking out of the White House with such pride, thinking and pretending that he accomplished his missions; made the world a better place and spread democracy! That shoe came right on his face to wake him up and give him the humiliation he deserves, at the hands of a brave Iraqi with the brave Iraqi saying 'here is the goodbye kiss'...how many Iraqi faces have been stepped on with shoes because of him [Bush] - it's time for him to try his own poison...I jumped out of my chair with the widest smile ever, but that smile disappeared when I saw the bastards kicking him [Muntazer al-Zaidi] and punching him, and what really hurt me [was] the Iraqis who were beating him and screaming 'turn off all the cameras' (...).
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 (...)."