Iraqi shoe-thrower gets three years in jail

This video is called Iraqi Shoe Thrower on Trial.

From British daily The Guardian:

Iraqi shoe-thrower sentenced to three years in jail

Journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi had pleaded not guilty to charge of aggression against George Bush

* Michael Howard in Erbil

* Thursday 12 March 2009

The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at George Bush, gaining instant hero status in much of the Arab world, has been sentenced to three years in prison, his defence lawyer said today.

Muntazer al-Zaidi, 30, who worked for the al-Baghdadiya television channel, had earlier pleaded not guilty and said his actions had been a “natural response to the occupation”.

He was given the three-year sentence for assaulting a foreign head of state during an offcial visit.

After the verdict was announced, his relatives erupted in anger, shouting that the decision was unjust and unfair.

Zaidi denied charges of aggression against a foreign head of state as his trial resumed after a three-week hiatus.

Under a Saddam Hussein-era law, he could have faced up to 15 years in prison. …

The trial took place at the central criminal court in Baghdad’s Green Zone, which is normally reserved for terrorism cases.

Several Iraqi politicians had attended the first session, seeing it as a test of the country’s post-Saddam judiciary.

In that session, Zaidi, draped in an Iraqi flag, told the court how his anger had boiled over as he watched Bush “smiling that icy smile” while standing next to the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

Bush spoke of “progress” in Iraq since 2003 and the leaders having dinner together.

“I thought about what the achievements were – killing about a million Iraqis,” Zaidi said. “I saw only Bush and it was like something black in my eyes.”

The journalist took off his shoes and threw them at Bush, who ducked behind a lectern. …

Prior to the start of the trial, Zaidi claimed he had been beaten and tortured while in custody.

See also here. And here. And here. And here. And here.

This is a cartoon from British daily The Independent.

Zaidi trial cartoon

Bush shoe protestor says worldwide fame has still left him a poor man: here.

Australia: Hunter Valley activist Pete Gray gained notoriety on October 25 for throwing shoes at former prime minister John Howard on ABC’s political talk show, Q&A: here.

7 thoughts on “Iraqi shoe-thrower gets three years in jail

  1. Iraqi who threw shoes at Bush jailed for 3 years

    By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

    BAGHDAD – A court convicted an Iraqi journalist of assault Thursday for hurling his shoes at George W. Bush and sentenced him to three years in prison, prompting an outburst from his family and calls for his release from Iraqis who consider him an icon for a nation decimated by war.

    Muntadhar al-Zeidi, 30, defiantly shouted, “Long Live Iraq!” when the sentence was imposed, according to defense lawyers. Some of his relatives collapsed and had to be helped out of the courthouse. Others were forcibly removed by guards after shouting “Down with Bush!”

    “This judiciary is unjust,” al-Zeidi’s brother, Dargham, said tearfully.

    Other family members shouted insults against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who like al-Zeidi is a Shiite.

    Although al-Zeidi received the minimum sentence — it could have been 15 years behind bars — his lawyers denounced the verdict and said they would appeal, possibly hoping a public outcry would aid their cause.

    Al-Zeidi’s brazen act during a Dec. 14 press conference by Bush and al-Maliki in Baghdad’s Green Zone turned the young reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world, where the former U.S. president is reviled for invading Iraq in 2003 and for other policies.

    Many Iraqis interviewed after the verdict believed the sentence was too harsh and that al-Zeidi was a hero for standing up to the American president. Supporters defended his act as a political statement in Arab culture, where throwing shoes at someone is considered an especially serious insult.

    But protests on al-Zeidi’s behalf have drawn few participants since December, and there was no sign of spontaneous rallies Thursday after the noontime verdict.

    It appeared unlikely, therefore, that al-Maliki would recommend a presidential pardon for the journalist, at least anytime soon.

    Al-Maliki was deeply embarrassed by the assault against an American president who had stood by him when some Arab leaders were quietly urging the U.S. to oust him. His aides had said the prime minister was personally offended by such an insult to a foreign guest.

    The speed of the trial — two relatively brief hearings — is likely to feed widespread suspicion among Iraqis that al-Maliki’s government orchestrated the process, although defense lawyers said they had no evidence of interference.

    Spokesmen for Bush and for the State Department both called the verdict “a matter for the Iraqi judicial system.”

    During Thursday’s proceedings, chief defense attorney Dhia al-Saadi moved that the charges be dismissed, saying al-Zeidi’s act was “an expression of freedom” and not a crime.

    “It was an act of throwing a shoe, not a rocket,” he told the court. “It was meant as an insult to the occupation.”

    Al-Zeidi, wearing a beige suit over a brown shirt and brown leather shoes, then entered a plea of not guilty.

    Judge Abdul-Amir al-Rubaie cleared the courtroom of all spectators and announced the verdict, which was relayed to reporters and family members by defense lawyers and a court official.

    News of al-Zeidi’s sentence drew quick reactions across the capital.

    “Al-Zeidi should have been honored and not sent to prison,” said Salam Omar, who owns a cell phone shop in eastern Baghdad.

    Nasir al-Saadi, a lawmaker loyal to Shiite opposition leader Muqtada al-Sadr, said the court “should have adopted a more humane approach and released him.”

    “It is an illegitimate and unfair sentence because he hit the commander of an occupying force,” said Ahmed al-Obeidi, who lives in Baghdad’s Sunni district of Azamiyah.

    An ABC News/BBC/NHK poll released Thursday found that 62 percent of Iraqis surveyed considered al-Zeidi a hero and only 24 percent considered him a criminal.

    Support was highest among Sunni Arabs — 84 percent — and lowest among the Kurds at 38 percent, according to ABC.

    ABC said the findings were based on 2,228 face-to-face interviews with a random national sample of Iraqis conducted Feb. 17-25. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The full survey will be released Monday ahead of the sixth anniversary of the war, ABC said.

    The head of the Iraqi Journalists’ Union, Mouyyad al-Lami, urged the government to pardon al-Zeidi, saying the young journalist “deserves a second chance to start a new life.”

    But Serwan Gharaib, a journalist in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah, said al-Zeidi had violated journalistic ethics by exploiting his access to Bush.

    “I may understand the suffering of the Iraqi people due to the occupation, but I do not understand the bizarre method of protest conducted by al-Zeidi,” he said.

    Al-Zeidi, a correspondent for a small Iraqi-owned television station based in Cairo, Egypt, has been in Iraqi custody since the incident.

    When al-Zeidi threw his shoes at Bush, he shouted in Arabic: “This is your farewell kiss, you dog! This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”

    On Thursday, defense lawyers quoted al-Zeidi as telling them, “At that moment, I saw nothing but Bush, and I felt the blood of the innocents flowing under his feet while he was smiling that smile.”

    Bush quickly ducked to avoid being hit and was not injured. Guards wrestled al-Zeidi to the ground and dragged him away.

    The trial began on Feb. 19 but was adjourned until Thursday after the defense argued that the assault charge was inapplicable because Bush was not in Baghdad on an official visit, having arrived unannounced and without an invitation.

    On Thursday, the judge accepted a statement from al-Maliki’s office that the visit was official.

    Last month, a German student threw a shoe at Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao during a speech at Britain’s Cambridge University. The student, Martin Jahnke, is free on bail until his trial in June on charges of disturbing public order.


    Associated Press Writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.


  2. Mar 13, 8:54 AM EDT

    Iraqi clerics call for shoe thrower’s release

    Associated Press Writer

    Iraqi clerics call for shoe thrower’s release

    US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,257

    UK officials were worried about Iraq dossier

    BAGHDAD (AP) — Shiite clerics on Friday called for the release of the Iraqi journalist sentenced to three years in prison for throwing his shoes at George W. Bush.

    Sheik Suhail al-Iqabi, a follower of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said the sentence against Muntadhar al-Zeidi is “a verdict against the Iraqi people who refuse the American occupation” of Iraq.

    Efforts to release detained Sadrists and others who have opposed the American presence in the country also should be expedited, al-Iqabi said in his sermon in Baghdad’s Shiite stronghold of Sadr City.

    Al-Zeidi’s brazen act during a December news conference by then-President Bush and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has turned the 30-year-old reporter into a folk hero across the Arab world, where the former U.S. president is reviled for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    On Thursday, a court sentenced him to three years in prison on an assault conviction. Al-Zeidi had pleaded innocent and said his action was prompted by anger over Bush’s claims of victory in a war that has devastated his country.

    The speed of the trial – which took two relatively brief hearings – was likely to feed widespread suspicion among Iraqis that al-Maliki’s U.S.-backed government orchestrated the process, although defense lawyers said they had no evidence of interference.

    Another Shiite cleric in the Sadrist stronghold of Kufa also condemned the prison sentence.

    “We just wonder on what law the judge has based his sentence. Was this verdict taken to satisfy their masters?” Sheik Abdul-Hadi al-Mohammadawi said during a sermon. “Why do you not try the Americans who are killing the Iraqi people in cold blood?”

    The reporter’s detention sparked mass protests in the Arab world and copycat protests elsewhere. But since December, demonstrations on al-Zeidi’s behalf have drawn few participants.

    Worshippers chanted slogans demanding the release of all detainees and burned American flags after Friday prayers in Sadr City in what has become a weekly protest.

    Iraq’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, meanwhile, expressed concern about an uptick in violence after a deadly week in which Baghdad saw two of the deadliest attacks in months. The suicide bombings on Sunday and Tuesday killed a total of more than 60 people.

    “The attacks that happened over the past few days represent a grave deterioration in the security situation and this issue should be reviewed,” he said in a statement issued by the presidential council.

    He said the three-member council led by President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, would ask Iraq’s prime minister and the general commander of armed forces to summon senior security officials to find out how the attacks could have happened and to make sure they won’t be repeated.

    In violence reported by Iraqi police on Friday, a bomb exploded in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, killing a woman and wounding a boy.

    A roadside bomb also struck a police patrol in eastern Baghdad, wounding four officers.

    Amnesty International, meanwhile, called on the Iraqi government to stop the execution of 128 prisoners on death row, saying the country’s judicial system is ill-equipped to provide a fair trial.

    The international rights organization said the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council had informed it that authorities were planning to carry out the death sentences in batches of 20 per week.

    At least 34 of 285 people sentenced to death were executed last year, while at least 33 of 199 people sentenced to death were executed in 2007 and 65 people were put to death in 2006, according to the group.

    “Iraq’s creaking judicial system is simply unable to guarantee fair trials in ordinary criminal cases, and even less so in capital cases, with the result, we fear, that numerous people have gone to their death after unfair trials,” said Amnesty’s regional director, Malcolm Smart.

    Associated Press Writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.


  3. Shoe thrower ignites a passionate following in Iraq

    In Print: Saturday, March 14, 2009

    BAGHDAD — What does it take for an Iraqi woman to fall in love with a man?

    In parks and dress shops, in university halls and on picnics, Iraqi women are still smitten — three months and one new American president later — by the shoe thrower, Muntadar al-Zaidi.

    His conviction and sentencing for three years on March 12 only burnished his image as a Robin Hood character, someone who lives out the dream of the common man and in doing so becomes gallant and desirable.

    Zainab Mahdi, a 19-year-old student sporting a red baseball cap, swung on a swing set in a riverside park on Friday as she spoke admiringly of Zaidi.

    “Every Iraqi wanted to beat Bush,” she said. “Muntadar made our wishes come true.”

    Her sister, Hanan Mahdi, 22, who was standing next to the swing set, spoke with passion in her voice. “Muntadar make us proud of ourselves as Iraqis,” she said. “We were in Syria when he hurled his shoe at Bush, and we noticed the change in the way Syrian people treated us. They treated us in a better way.”

    Zaidi captured nearly everyone’s imagination here when he threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a Dec. 14 news conference with the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. While Iraqi men have been divided over Zaidi’s gesture, it was hard to find a woman who wholeheartedly disapproved of him.

    In conversations with 20 women over the last several days, most expressed strikingly positive sentiments about him and much anger about the three years he must serve behind bars.

    “Zaidi restored Iraqi women’s dignity, which was stolen” since the 2003 American invasion, said Um Baneen, 31, a homemaker who said it was Bush, not Zaidi, who deserved three years in prison. “No one dared to face Bush in the whole world, only Muntadar al-Zaidi.”

    Said Atiyaf Mahmoud, 19, a student in her first year of medical school, “I love Zaidi. I saw him in my dreams twice. The last one was after the trial. He was released and I went to congratulate him and shake my hand with him. … I wish to have that dream again.”


  4. Leaders cower from “shoe-cide” attacks

    Fri Apr 17, 2009 1:01pm EDT

    By Bappa Majumdar

    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s politicians contesting in the general election, fearful of shoes hurled at them by disgruntled voters, have asked for more security and are erecting metal nets at rallies.

    Lal Krishna Advani, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate was the latest politician to be at the receiving end Thursday, as an angry party worker threw a slipper at him during an election meeting in a central state.

    The slipper missed Advani, but was enough for authorities to step up security for all leaders across the country.

    The incident was the latest episode of shoe-throwing as a mark of protest against political leaders, including former U.S. President George W. Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

    Throwing a shoe at someone is considered an insult in India.

    Indian politicians have asked party workers to remove shoes at meetings and alerted police and their security staff to keep a tab on people, including journalists in news conferences.

    “The security is extremely tight for politicians, and we are keeping a close watch on everyone,” a Delhi Police spokesman said.

    Last week, a Sikh journalist hurled a shoe at India’s home minister during a news conference after getting angry with the minister’s reply to a question about 1984 riots in which hundreds of Sikhs were killed.

    Three days later, a retired school teacher threw a shoe at popular Congress lawmaker Naveen Jindal, during an election rally in Haryana state.

    Authorities in Gujarat state built an iron safety net to keep flying shoes away, as Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the BJP-ruled state began his speech at a rally this week.

    “These are acts of insanity, there is no scope for such acts in India’s political system,” Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the BJP’s candidate in Bihar state where election was held Thursday said.

    India’s politicians have not taken the shoe attacks personally and not initiated legal action so far.

    “Flying footwear are now the weapons of mass distraction,” was the headline in one such report carried by the Mail Today newspaper Friday.

    (Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Valerie Lee)


  5. Pingback: Shoes thrown at Belgian bank fat cats | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  7. Pingback: Iraqi police state arrests shoe-thrower al-Zaidi | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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