The Iraqi man who threw shoes at ‘dog’ George W. Bush is throwing his hat into the political ring
‘If I become prime minister of Iraq or president then the first thing I will do is ask the US to officially apologise to all Iraqis … and hold former president George W. Bush accountable’
Muntadhar al-Zaidi might be most famous for his shoes.
Back in 2008, the Iraqi journalist attended a Baghdad news conference with George W. Bush. The then-US president was there to tout the successes of the US invasion.
Zaidi was not having it. In quick succession, he chucked his two loafers at the president’s head, shouting: “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.”
Guards tackled him to the ground, and Zaidi was sentenced to three years in prison. He ended up serving only nine months and then moved to Beirut.
Zaidi’s protest has made him famous in the Arab world and beyond. The Baydan Shoe factory, which manufactured the shoes thrown at Bush, renamed the model the “ByeBye Bush” shoe. The shoe was even briefly honoured with a bronze statue at an Iraqi orphanage.
Now, the 39-year-old is running for a seat in the Iraqi parliament.
In an op-ed piece from 2009, he wrote about his political activism this way:
“I am not a hero. But I have a point of view. I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated; and to see my Baghdad burned, my people killed,” he said.
“Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, pushing me toward the path of confrontation. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Fallujah, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land.
“I travelled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and heard with my own ears the screams of the orphans and the bereaved. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.”
Those horrors are still on his mind. Someday, he told reporters, he would like to run the country. His goal? Holding the United States accountable.
“I don’t have any issue with America or Americans. My only issue is with the former president George W. Bush. He occupied my country, and he killed my people,” Zaidi told CNN.
“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 apologise to all Iraqis, to compensate the victims and hold former president George W. Bush accountable.”