Newspaper: Kitabat

Caption Says: 'A Baathist journalist exchanges his tools.'

On Microphone is Written: 'Al Baghdadiyah,' which is

the satellite network of reporter Muntadar Al Zeidi.'

[Sotal Iraq, Iraq]



Sotal Iraq, Iraq

Shoe Attack a Throwback to the Era of Saddam Hussein


"This was an act that first and foremost, harmed journalism and journalists, and will give the authorities a pretext, however democratic they may be, for taking the harshest measures not only to prevent such a thing from happening again, but to inhibit even more dangerous ones from taking place."


By Malum Abu Ragheef


Translated by Nicolas Dagher


December 15, 2008


Iraq - Sotal Iraq - Original Article (Arabic)

A Lebanese student holds a photo of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, detained after he threw his shoes at President Bush, during a demonstration to demand his release from custody in Iraq, during a rally in Beirut, Lebanon, Dec. 17. While the indignance over President Bush's record is felt around the world - there are some who find the throwing of shoes by al-Zeidi to be a violation of the norms of his profession.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Iraqi ministry officials are arrested as being members of the banned Baathist Party of Saddam Hussein; government denies they were planing a coup, Dec. 18, 00:01:34RealVideo

Of course no one believes that the motive behind the reckless behavior of the correspondent from Al Baghdadiyah satellite TV, Muntadar Al Zeidi, reflected patriotism or love of country. Journalists don't express themselves by throwing shoes, hurling insults or cursing. These are leftovers of what we saw and lived through during the Baathist era of Saddam, when public corruption and violations of human rights were matters of course.


No press conference attended by a Baathist official was free of foul language or irresponsible behavior. This type of foul behavior was a hallmark of the Baathists, who lent legitimacy to misconduct and a lack of education. And has anyone forgotten the runaway Izzat Al Duri and his lack of manners wherever he attended Arab conferences?


[Editor's Note: Until the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Izzat ad-Douri [photo, right] was an Iraqi military commander and vice-president and deputy chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council. Following the execution of Saddam Hussein in December 2006, al-Douri was confirmed as leader of the banned Iraqi Baath Party .]


The journalist's weapons are his words, his courage and the precision of his questions - not shoes and curses. These were part of the curriculum of the Baathists, which took hold not only in the souls of young journalists, but even among senior politicians. Who among us can forget the speaker of Iraq's Parliament using his shoes in dealing with other lawmakers?


Al Zeidi's was not a supernatural feat, nor was it a courageous action or a rare challenge. His was an act that first and foremost, harmed journalism and journalists, and will give the authorities a pretext, however democratic they may be, for taking the harshest measures not only to prevent such a thing from happening again, but to inhibit even more dangerous events from taking place.


What if an al-Qaeda Islamist or run-of-the-mill lunatic manages to sneak in as a journalist of an Arab or Iraqi satellite network - while the networks are struggling to outdo one another with patriotic slogans carrying a white weapon - or a black or yellow one for that matter? [In Arabic. a white weapon is a knife or bayonet. Yellow and black were thrown in as a sarcastic aside]. Can anyone predict the consequences?



Iraqi News Agency: The Journalist Who Lifted Iraq's New Year Spirits

Al-Iraq News, Iraq: Baghdad Bids Bush Farewell ... With a Journalist's Shoes

Al-Iraq News, Iraq: The Hero Who Made Bush's Head a 'Playground for His Shoes'

El Khabar, Algeria: Iraq Invents Weapon for Rulers that Lie 'The Nuclear Shoe'

The Daily Star, Lebanon: Bush's Record and the Shoes Heard 'Round the World

The Peoples' Daily, China: Behind the Scenes: The 'Attack of the Flying Shoes'

The Times, U.K.: Journalist Who Threw Shoes at Bush, 'Has Broken Arm and Ribs'

Guardian Unlimited, U.K.: How to Insult Bush Anywhere In the World

Financial Times, U.K.: Bush's 'Sole' is Bared


More striking still was the press release issued by the Al Baghdadiyah network after Muntazar Al Zeidi's arrest and the way it broadcast patriotic music as if this was the climax of some sort of fateful battle - as though the battle had been won and we had gone from the bottom of a hole to the top of a summit. All that happened was that a desperate journalist threw his shoes at President Bush, who explained that the reason for the incident was that this journalist was simply looking for attention. It all reminds us of the "triumphs" and "victories" of Saddam and the "glories" of the Arab nation.


The statement released by the Al Baghdadiyah satellite station is also quite strange because it never mentioned the actual incident and failed to explain the profusion of patriotic songs and video clips. Instead, it demanded that Iraqi authorities release Al Zeidi, since Iraq's new government has committed itself to an era of democracy and freedom of expression. Although the press release spoke of mass graves, arbitrary arrests and suppression of freedom of expression, it never explained that these were things that occurred during the Baathist or Saddam era. This was mentioned only in passing as the "dictatorial era," in a lackluster attempt to avoid offending Arabs, Baathists and pro-Saddamists.



Might one ask Al Baghdadiyah what the relationship is between freedom of speech and the throwing of shoes? Can't intellectuals, journalists, poets and other artists use their brains and ideas rather than their hands and shoes?


Has the shoe become the word? Or is it that the journalists of Al Baghdadiyah express their ideas with their shoes the way the much-respected Iraqi resistance expresses its understanding of Democracy through its beheading of Iraqis?



































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US December 21, 8:10pm]


Above and below: Images from George W. Bush's final press conference in Iraq as president, with Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, December 14.

—BBC NEWS VIDEO: Iraqi's rally for Bush attacker, news reporter Muntadar al-Zeidi, Dec. 15, 00:00:26RealVideo

RealVideo[LATEST NEWSWIRE PHOTOS: Shoes that made history].

at a rally for his release outside the United States Consulate in Lahore, Pakistanis hold photographs of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who hurled shoes at U. S. President Bush, Dec. 17

Um Sa'aad, sister of Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi, cries as she holds one of her brother'ws shoes, at his apartment in in Baghdad, Dec. 15.

An Indian demonstrator in New Dehli, Dec. 18.

Mustafa Kir, head of a Turkish civil service union, displays a pair of shoes he plans to send to Muntadar al-Zeidi, at a rally outside the Iraqi Embassy in Ankara, Dec. 18

An Iraqi journalist holds a sign of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi that reads 'throw off your shoe,' during a gathering to demand his release, at the journalist syndicate in Beirut, Lebanon, Dec. 16.

Shoe Says: 'What am I being punished for?' [Iraqi News Agency, Iraq]