From the New York Post and various news sources:
An Iraqi journalist who threw his shoe at President Bush has been hailed as a hero.
"This is a farewell kiss, you dog," Al-Baghdadia TV correspondent Muntadar al-Zeidi shouted as he hurled one of his shoes at Bush in the middle of a news conference. Bush ducked as the shoe zoomed over his head and crashed into the wall behind the podium. Just as the stunned president regained his composure, al-Zeidi threw his second shoe, shouting, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."
The secret service was apparently AWOL.
Al-Zeidi was arrested, of course, and he now faces up to seven years in prison. But thousands of people have taken to the streets in Iraq to demand the release of al-Zeidi, who is still being held at the headquarters of the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
After the incident the Iraqi government criticised al-Zaidi's action and "demanded" an on-air apology from Al-Baghdadia TV. Al-Baghdadia TV issued a statement demanding al-Zaidi's release: "Al-Baghdadia television demands that the Iraqi authorities immediately release al-Zaidi, in line with the democracy and freedom of expression that the American authorities promised the Iraqi people on the ousting of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Any measures against Muntadhar will be considered the acts of a dictatorial regime".
Hundreds of students at Diyala University in Baquba carried banners demanding the release of Muntadhar al-Zaidi -- described by demonstrators as an "honorable Iraqi."
Predictably, al-Zaidi has fans not only in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East and all over the world. A charity run by the daughter of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi bestowed a medal of courage on al-Zeidi, calling on the Iraqi government to free him. In Syria, Mr. Zaidi’s picture was shown all day on state television, with Syrians calling in to share their admiration for his gesture and his bravery.
Despite the pleas of his worldwide fans, the AP reports that the journalist was handed over to the Iraqi judiciary Tuesday.
Alexis de Tocqueville said that "In a Democracy, the people get the government they deserve." The Iraqi people had better hope this isn't true. The "shoe bomber" episode proves one thing very poignantly: Iraq is not ready for democracy and doesn't deserve it.
Consider the following: earlier this decade Saddam Hussein was routinely administering torture of all kinds: branding, electric shocks, beating, pulling out fingernails, burning with hot irons and blowtorches, suspension from rotating ceiling fans, dripping acid on the skin, rape, breaking limbs, extended solitary confinement in dark and extremely small compartments, and threats to rape or otherwise harm family members and relatives.
Bush brought all that to an end. Now, after having been liberated from the Hussein regime, Iraqis are sympathizing with the shoe thrower. Warning to Iraqis: this kind of thinking will buy you front row tickets to another dictatorial regime faster than you can say "Allāhu Akbar".
I'm guessing that the Iraqi media are at least as irresponsible and anti-Bush as the American media are, so to some extent, I can forgive the Iraqis for behaving in such an ignorant fashion. But it is shocking to me how quickly they have forgotten how evil Saddam Hussein's regime was.
They want the U.S. out? I say "be careful what you wish for." Democracy in Iraq will be very short-lived.
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