Thursday, March 12, 2009

Three Years in Prison for Iraqi Journalist Who Threw His Shoes at George W. Bush


Click here to play

Muntadar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who tossed his shoes at President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference on December 14, 2008, was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday.

Dozens of shoe throwing games and video edits were placed online in the days following this incident. Perhaps the most famous, Sock and Awe, appears above for your gaming pleasure. Thus far, over 90 million virtual shoes have successfully hit little Bushie in the face. He grimaces and turns a shade of purple when the shoe strikes; there is a yellow explosion graphic and a sharp, meaty slapping sound. All very cathartic and addictive. My high score is 15.

So take a moment to celebrate and try your luck. Although he no longer occupies the White House, this game allows you to connect with the ex-president in a resounding and satisfying manner.

Other shoe throwing games, video cut-ups, animated shoe-toss GIFs and slow motion/fast motion replays of the incident can be viewed (and played) here. An interesting one employs the Monty Python foot:


After tossing each of his shoes in turn and missing the fast-dodging little Bushie, Zeidi shouted "This is your farewell kiss, you dog!" in Arabic as he was wrestled to the floor by Iraqi security personnel.

It is alleged that Zeidi was tortured while in police custody, including being burnt by cigarettes and having a tooth knocked out.

Hurling a shoe at someone certainly has negative connotations in the West, although we tend to temper our reception of the action with a broad, slapstick humor. But it is taken as a serious insult in the Muslim and Arab world, where even pointing the soles of your feet at someone is considered an affront. Zeidi became a hero across the Middle East, where his case enlisted the support of many in the region. Large street rallies were organized in his defense. In Iraq a giant sculpture of a shoe was briefly erected in his honor.

Zeidi pleaded not guilty, claiming the incident was a justifiable response to the damage America had done while occupying his country. The charge against him, aggression against the head of a foreign country, carried a maximum fifteen years in jail.

Dhia al-Saadi, the senior member of the defense team, indicated they would be appealing the decision, claiming it does not constitute a crime. "It was an act of throwing a shoe and not a rocket. It was meant as an insult to the occupation".

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