10 year anniversary of Iraqi journalist dramatically throwing his shoe at George W. Bush

Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi was catapulted to fame after he threw both his shoes at then-US-president George W. Bush on December 14, 2008, and he became a hero for thousands in the Middle East.

One month before leaving the presidency, then-62-year-old George W. Bush visited Baghdad in his final Iraqi tour and prompted an angry reaction from a then-30-year-old little known Iraqi journalist named Muntadhar al-Zaidi.

Al-Zaidi’s act of protest against the US invasion of Iraq at the same time sparked a diplomatic incident and turned him into an icon for everybody who resisted the US presence in the country based on false intelligence claims.

With Bush’s popularity at his lowest not only in the Islamic world but also in Europe and the US, where Bush’s party dramatically lost the presidential election to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, the world felt empathy towards al-Zaidi.

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A decade has passed since al-Zaidi and his shoes became a symbol of resistance. The events unfolded at a press conference involving Bush and then-Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

After Bush said that the Iraqi War was “decisively on its way to being won,” al-Zaidi stood up and shouted, “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog”, in Arabic, before throwing one of his shoes at Bush’s head.

He did the same thing with his other shoe yelling, “This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq,” and was then tackled and arrested. Bush remarkably dodged both shoes and didn’t suffer any physical harm.

Al-Zaidi could have faced up to 15 years in prison on the charge of  “assault on a foreign head of state,” but actually received a three-year sentence and was released after spending just nine months in jail.

Eventually, Bush spoke out about the incident in the most candid way, before saying that he hoped Iraqi authorities didn’t “overreact” when taking al-Zaidi to court.

With Bush’s popularity at his lowest not only in the Islamic world but also in Europe and the US, where Bush’s party dramatically lost the presidential election to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, the world felt empathy towards al-Zaidi.

“Here I am getting ready to answer questions from a free press in a democratic Iraq, and a guy stands up and throws a shoe. And it was bizarre. And it was an interesting way for a person to express himself,” Bush said.

“What drove me to the confrontation was the injustice that befell my country and people, and how the occupation tried to humiliate my homeland and crushed the people, men, women, and children. The chance came, and I did not miss it.”

-Muntadhar al-Zaidi, Washington Post, September 16, 2009.

In May 2018, al-Zaidi, now 39 years old, was back in the news after he announced he was going to run for the Iraqi parliament.

As of former president Bush, now 72, he has been mostly out of politics for the recent years, and his latest public appearances have been related to the loss of both his parents in a matter of months.

The death of his father, former president George H.W. Bush at 94, has resulted in many tributes from important figures and the media, and it has produced its share of iconic historical moments.

During the memorial service for the late president George H.W. Bush Sr., we witnessed a rare instance of four living former US presidents and the current one in the same room.

As the former dignitaries paid their dues, the media took note of how few and far between such an arrangement happens.

In attendance was current President Donald Trump, former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter.

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