Iraq's Hero Shoe-Thrower Running For Parliament, Hell Yeah!
Muntadhar al-Zaidi (or Muntazer, depending on your transliteration preferences), the Iraqi journalist who won hearts, minds, and tut-tutting oppprobrium worldwide when he whanged his shoes in the general direction of George W. Bush in 2008, is using that brief moment of fame as the starting point for a run for Iraq's parliament.
Al-Zaidi was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison after his protest, which he termed a "farewell kiss" to a "dog" who had ordered the invasion of Iraq. His sentence was later reduced to one year, and he was eventually let out after nine months. George W. Bush, for his part, received a certain amount of respect for his quick reflexes, and, after avoiding any war crimes charges, took up oil painting.
In 2009, a statue commemorating the shoe-flinging was erected outside an orphanage in Tikrit.
While we fully embrace the surrealism of that image of the president of the United States dodging shoes, we're just as impressed by the justified rage behind it. A week after his release in 2009, Al-Zaidi wrote an op-ed in which he lamented what Bush's invasion had caused Iraq to lose -- in addition to hundreds of thousands of lives:
We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shia would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ. This despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than a decade.
Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. But the invasion divided brother from brother, neighbour from neighbour. It turned our homes into funeral tents.
He went on to describe his shoe-throwing -- a very resonant, deep insult in Arab culture -- as an act of symbolic justice against the man who had brought ruin to his country, in payment for
every drop of innocent blood that has been shed through the occupation or because of it, every scream of a bereaved mother, every moan of an orphan, the sorrow of a rape victim, the teardrop of an orphan.
I say to those who reproach me: do you know how many broken homes that shoe which I threw had entered? How many times it had trodden over the blood of innocent victims? Maybe that shoe was the appropriate response when all values were violated.
When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people.
That's a pretty good reason to throw a shoe, and a pretty good reason to run for office in hope of rebuilding some of what was destroyed. In a video promoting his campaign, al-Zaidi said, "As you know me from a long time ago, I will be supporting the oppressed people and be against oppressors," which is certainly something we can get behind; it would be nice if American media sources had more information on what his actual platform is. Buzzfeed says since al-Zaidi returned to Iraq in 2011 after two years abroad, he
has kept a relatively low profile, working with the al-Zaidi Foundation, which says its goal is "to find a safe atmosphere for the children who lost their parents during the American occupation on Iraq."
In an interview with CNN, Al-Zaidi, who's only 39 now, made clear he doesn't have any issues with Americans, but remains disgusted by George W. Bush:
My only issue is with the former president George W. Bush. He occupied my country and he killed my people.
If I become the prime minister of Iraq or the president then the first thing I will do is to ask the United States of America to officially apologize to all Iraqis, to compensate the victims and hold former president George W. Bush accountable.
If Trump ever tempts us to careless nostalgia for the lawful evil of the Bush years, Muntadhar al-Zaidi would be happy to remind us exactly what a "competent" Republican administration can unleash in the world.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.