Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi achieved international recognition after he threw both of his shoes at President George W. Bush. Now, Iraq’s most well-known political activist is running for the office of Parliamentary member.
He first grabbed the media’s attention in December 2008 when then-President George W. Bush was at a farewell press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad.
Partway through the conference, al-Zaidi stood up and shouted, “this is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog!” and threw the first shoe. He shouted, “this is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq” when he threw the second. Both missed. He was quickly arrested for attacking a head of state.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki argued that he should face 15 years in jail or execution. Al-Zaidi alleges he was tortured by the Prime Minister’s security detail. Eventually, he was sentenced to three years for the incident because of his age and clean criminal record, had it reduced to one year, and was released in nine months for good behavior.
During his imprisonment, crowds called for his release and a monument was erected to the shoes that lasted a whole day before being torn down by the Iraqi central government.
(Screengrab via YouTube)
Ever since the incident, President Bush has taken it in stride saying, “I’m not angry with the system. I believe that a free society is emerging, and a free society is necessary for our own security and peace.” Al-Zaidi, meanwhile, went to Geneva where he announced that he started a humanitarian agency to build orphanages and children’s hospitals in Iraq.
Now, Al-Zaidi is running for one of the 328 seats of parliament on May 12th, making this the first open election since the Iraqi government declared victory over ISIS last December. His goals include efforts to rebuild Iraq after the country’s tumultuous recent history.