Iraqi authorities are facing calls for the release of the journalist who threw his shoes at US President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference. Many Iraqis have hailed the move as a fitting gesture towards an unpopular world leader.
Colleagues of Muntazer al-Zaidi, who works for independent Iraqi television station Al-Baghdadia, said he "detested
"Throwing the shoes at Bush was the best goodbye kiss ever... it expresses how Iraqis and other Arabs hate Bush," wrote Musa Barhoumeh, editor of
Hundreds of Iraqis joined anti-US demonstrations to protest at Bush's farewell visit on Sunday to
The Iraqi government however branded Zaidi's actions as "shameful" and demanded an apology from his Cairo-based employer, which in turn was calling for his immediate release from custody.
Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday, shouted "It is the farewell kiss, you dog" and threw two shoes at the
The shoes missed after Bush ducked and Zaidi was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and frogmarched from the room.
It is not known where Zaidi is currently being held.
"Al-Baghdadia television demands that the Iraqi authorities immediately release their stringer Muntazer al-Zaidi, in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people," it said in a statement.
"Any measures against Muntazer will be considered the acts of a dictatorial regime."
Saddam Hussein's former lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi said he was forming a team to defend Zaidi and that around 200 lawyers, including Americans, had offered their services for free.
"It was the least thing for an Iraqi to do to Bush, the tyrant criminal who has killed two million people in
His colleagues in the
Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam's statue was toppled in
During a demonstration in Sadr City, the bastion of radical anti-US cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, protestors threw shoes at passing US military vehicles, while in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, the crowds chanted "Down with America."
"All US soldiers who have used their shoes to humiliate Iraqis should be brought to justice, along with their
"The flying shoe speaks more for Arab public opinion than all the despots/puppets that Bush meets with during his travels in the Middle East," said Asad Abu Khalil, a popular Lebanese-American blogger and professor at
An Iraqi lawyer said Zaidi risked a miminum of two years in prison if he is prosecuted for insulting a visiting head of state, but could face a 15-year term if he is charged with attempted murder.
"We fear for his safety," he told AFP, adding that Zaidi had been arrested twice before by the Americans and that there were fears that more of the station's 200 correspondents in Iraqi would be arrested.
"As far as I'm concerned, as he long as he hit him using a shoe it's perfect," said
Date created : 2008-12-15