This week in history, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at George W. Bush

Published December 15th, 2015 - 12:28 GMT
Seven years later, some things about Iraq have also stayed the same. (AFP/File)
Seven years later, some things about Iraq have also stayed the same. (AFP/File)

Seven years ago this week, then-Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki, and then-US president George W. Bush were standing before a press conference in Baghdad when an Iraqi journalist tossed his shoes off and hurled them at Bush's head. 

Bush had just five weeks left in office when this happened, and he and Maliki had just signed a new security pact calling for the US to leave Iraq by 2011, eight years after the 2003 insurgency. 

The man in question was Iraqi broadcast journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi. With the Iraq war in full swing, al-Zaidi had already been kidnapped by Iraqi security forces once, and detained and interrogated by US forces two other times. As the first shoe flew, the journalist yelled "this is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog," in Arabic. With the second: "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq."

Al-Zaidi was tackled to the ground and spirited away after the incident, but not before the entire thing was caught on film by the Associated Press, sealing al-Zaidi and his shoes in history. Bush successfully ducked the footware, but the moment became a powerful symbol of the Iraq War itself. Back then, it sparked similar shows of protest across the Arab world and beyond, while voices around the region called for the shoes to be placed in a museum. 

Today, Iraq hardly resembles anything stable. Daesh (ISIS) has stretched from Mosul in the north to Anbar in the west against a weak Iraqi army struggling to take control. And US forces are back in the country, on the ground and in the air. 

And though that may look a lot different today, al-Zaidi's moment this week in history is a gripping reminder of how many things about Iraq have also stayed the same. 

See the video below. Via YouTube.

 


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