Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Muntadhar al-Zaidi is becoming an international hero

Press TV reports:

People from around the world have rejoiced in the glory of a frogmarched Iraqi reporter and vow to make him rich and eternally famous.

World eyes were fixed on Sunday on looped video of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi throwing his two shoes at President George W. Bush during a press conference. It seems, however, that world fascination over the shoe attack will live on.

In Saudi Arabia, a man has offered $10 million to buy just one of the two world famous black dress shoes in an obvious attempt to reward al-Zaidi.

A group led by the daughter of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi showed its admiration by awarding a medal of courage to the detained Iraqi.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hailed the Iraqi reporter as a role model for courageousness. "It's a good thing it didn't hit him. I'm not encouraging throwing shoes at anybody, but really, what courage," he said.

The online auction site eBay put one of the shoes up for Auction. The symbolic auction intended to take advantage of the popularity of the attack and direct money to the American Diabetes Association.

The online video of the shoe-hurling seems to be growing at a rate of more than 100,000 views per hour. "As of Monday December 15, in a period of one day after the incident, there were over 650 copies of the video that have generated more than 5.4 million views and 48,000 comments," NewTeeVee has reported.

Social networking website gather.com published an open letter to Bush, counting the combat boots of the 4,029 American soldiers who have died in the misguided Bush war of conquest and the 30,852 pairs of combat boots for soldiers injured there.

"If we bought shoes that cost $50 a pair, we could buy 12,239,700,000 pair to throw for all the money you have wasted on Iraq. For ignoring your own Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, when he told you that we should withdraw from Iraq, one more pair," Ann Weaver Hart wrote in her open letter to Bush.

Internet surfers got a kick out of making Flash-based games. In one of the games, players assume the role of Bush to earn points by dodging the shoes flying toward him. Another game scores player on how many shoes hit the animated Bush.

In Baghdad, people called for an immediate American withdrawal by removing their shoes and sandals and waving them high in the air.

"Bush, Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head," AP quoted the protestors as shouting.

"Although that action was not expressed in a civilized manner, it showed the Iraqi feelings, which is to object to the American occupation," says Qutaiba Rajaa, a 58-year-old physician in Samarra, a Sunni stronghold north of Baghdad.

Many others expressed undiluted pleasure. "I swear by God that all Iraqis with their different nationalities are glad about this act," says Yaareb Yousif Matti, a 45-year-old teacher from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Although there is no doubt that the action itself was not exactly pleasant, many people from around the world have rejoiced over the attack and have ensured that the shoe-hurling reporter will remain a memorable figure for years to come.

In the meanwhile, BBC online reports:

The brother of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush has said that the reporter has been beaten in custody.

Muntadar al-Zaidi has suffered a broken hand, broken ribs and internal bleeding, as well as an eye injury, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC (...)

Dargham al-Zaidi told the BBC's Caroline Wyatt in Baghdad he believed his brother had now been taken to a US military hospital in the Iraqi capital.