When Muntazer al-Zaidi threw his shoe at President Bush at a press conference in Baghdad last year, he was hailed as a hero by the Arab world. Zaidi actions drew widespread chatter in the blogosphere as commentators debated why he did it, whether he had done a disservice to journalism (his profession), and whether or not he was a hero to detractors of Bush.
Today, only a few days after his release, Zaidi set speculation over his motives to rest, penning a column in the Guardian where he answers two major questions:
1. Why Did He Throw the Shoe?
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.2. Was He Trying To Be a Hero?
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.Zaidi's release has raised also raised fresh debates: what does his alleged torture in prison mean for democracy in Iraq? And did he start a fad of copycat shoe-throwing protests across Asia?