September 19, 2009
"Why I threw the shoe"

(Also at The Daily Kos)

Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist known throughout the world as the man who threw his shoes at Dubya during a press conference, was released on Tuesday after serving nine months in prison for his act of protest, claiming that he was subjected to electric shocks and waterboarding while in custody. In today's Guardian, he writes about why he did it:

I am not a hero. But I have a point of view. I have a stance. It humiliated me to see my country humiliated; and to see my Baghdad burned, my people killed. Thousands of tragic pictures remained in my head, pushing me towards the path of confrontation. The scandal of Abu Ghraib. The massacre of Falluja, Najaf, Haditha, Sadr City, Basra, Diyala, Mosul, Tal Afar, and every inch of our wounded land. I travelled through my burning land and saw with my own eyes the pain of the victims, and heard with my own ears the screams of the orphans and the bereaved. And a feeling of shame haunted me like an ugly name because I was powerless.

We used to be a nation in which the Arab would share with the Turkman and the Kurd and the Assyrian and the Sabean and the Yazid his daily bread. And the Shia would pray with the Sunni in one line. And the Muslim would celebrate with the Christian the birthday of Christ. This despite the fact that we shared hunger under sanctions for more than a decade.

Our patience and our solidarity did not make us forget the oppression. But the invasion divided brother from brother, neighbour from neighbour. It turned our homes into funeral tents.

It's customary in a Daily Kos diary to add original commentary to a diary about a published article, so that the diary adds something for the reader over and above just reading the article itself. I wish there were more that I can contribute, but really al-Zaidi says it best himself, and I encourage you all to read the full article.

I think it's worth noting that al-Zaidi apologizes for wronging the profession of journalism, but after years of sycophantic stenography on the part of our major media institutions, I think there are plenty more journalists who owe us an apology. Frankly, we would have been served much better if more journalists had hurled their shoes and Bush and Cheney, if only rhetorically.

When I threw the shoe in the face of the criminal, George Bush, I wanted to express my rejection of his lies, his occupation of my country, my rejection of his killing my people. My rejection of his plundering the wealth of my country, and destroying its infrastructure. And casting out its sons into a diaspora.

The thought that this man when to prison for an act of political protest and an expression of just outrage, and might have even been tortured, is nothing short of ghastly when the criminal, George Bush, and his henchman, Dick Cheney, continue to walk free, and our entire established leadership balks at the very idea of even investigating them for the atrocities they committed.

This is the farewell kiss, you dog! This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq!

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