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Terrorism & Security

Shoe-tossing journalist was abused, Iraqi judge says

Thousands of protesters are calling for the release of journalist Mundtadhar al-Zeidi.

By Sarah More McCann / December 19, 2008



An Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush at a press conference in Iraq last Sunday was beaten afterward, an Iraqi judge said Friday. The latest revelation in the incident that has garnered worldwide attention comes amid an Iranian cleric's call for a "shoe intifada" against the US and praise for the journalist from a Malaysian leader, suggesting that US President-elect Barack Obama will face challenges to overcoming anti-US sentiments.

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According to the Associated Press (AP), Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi had "bruises on his face and around his eyes" shortly after throwing his shoes at President Bush during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Dec. 14.

Judge Dhia al-Kinani, the magistrate investigating the incident, said the court has opened an investigation into the alleged beating of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi.
Al-Zeidi was wrestled to the ground after throwing his shoes during the news conference Sunday by Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and there has been conflicting claims on his condition since then. One of his brothers said he was harshly beaten, but another said he seemed to be in good condition.
Al-Zeidi "was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him," the judge told The Associated Press....
The judge said the investigation would be completed and sent to the criminal court on Sunday.

The Guardian reports Mr. al-Zeidi's family claims US and Iraqi security teams are to blame for any injuries.

Zaidi's family have said he suffered a broken arm and other injuries after he was dragged away by Iraqi security officers and US secret service agents.

Al-Zeidi, who called Bush a "dog," is currently in custody, and may be charged with insulting a foreign leader, the AP reports. If found guilty, al-Zeidi could face two years or more in prison. Al-Zeidi did not lodge a complaint leading to the investigation of his alleged beating, and there are conflicting reports as to whether he wrote a letter to Mr. al-Maliki asking for clemency.

The incident sparked an outpouring of support for the journalist who tossed the shoes as "retaliation" for the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Middle East Times reports.

For many Iraqis and Arabs... the war was an illegal move against a sovereign nation, it had dismantled the state's institutions, brought disorder and violence, provided fertile ground for more terrorism, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, made more than 4 million homeless, and fragmented an Arab country along sectarian lines. In other words, the war is widely seen as having destroyed Iraq.
So when Zaidi threw his shoes at the U.S. president as a "farewell gift" just a few weeks before Bush leaves the White House, the Iraqi journalist was seen as a hero; Dec. 14 was declared the "start of a shoe revolution," and wealthy Arab businessmen offered to pay millions to buy the famous footwear that had narrowly missed Bush's face, but hit the American flag behind him.
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