Portuguese / Spanish / English

Middle East Near You

Bush shoe thrower running in Iraq parliamentary elections

Iraqi journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaidi throwing his shoes at then US President George Bush in 2008 [Twitter]

The Iraqi journalist who made history by throwing his shoes at then US President George Bush in 2008 has announced that he is standing in the country's upcoming parliamentary elections.

The former journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaidi is standing in next week's elections as a candidate for a list founded by Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr.

In an online video announcing his nomination, he vowed to tackle corruption and "sweep away the thieves and corrupt people, prosecute those who steal Iraqi money, and stop public money being wasted."

"As you know me from a long time ago, I will be supporting the oppressed people and be against oppressors," he said.

Al-Zaidi made world headlines in 2008 when he threw both his shoes at President Bush during a press conference, shouting in Arabic: "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

The gesture made him a hero to many Iraqis, but he was charged with assaulting a foreign leader and sentenced to three years in prison, which was later reduced to 12 months, despite thousands of people taking to the streets in protest of his detention.

Read: Nearly 6m Iraqi workers without pensions

Al-Zaidi served nine months in prison, during which he alleges he was tortured by Iraqi security forces, but was released early on good behaviour.

"I suffered a great deal," he told reporters after his release. "I still have problems with my teeth, back and other parts of my body where I was tortured."

In 2009 he wrote an op-ed in the Guardian as to why he threw his shoes at the president: "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."

After his release from prison, AL-Zaidi quit journalism and moved to Geneva and then Beirut, where he set up a humanitarian organisation to help victims of the Iraq war. His organisation aimed to contribute to the building of orphanages and medical centres offering free treatment to those affected by the war.

Whilst Al-Zaidi is running as a parliamentarian, he has hopes for a longer political career.

"If I become the prime minister of Iraq or the president then the first thing I will do is to ask the United States of America to officially apologise to all Iraqis, to compensate the victims and hold former president George W. Bush accountable," he told CNN yesterday.

Some 24 million Iraqis are eligible to vote in the polls which will be held next week on 12 May. The elections will be the first since the government officially declared victory over Daesh militants.

Read: British air strikes in Iraq 'may have killed civilians'

IraqMiddle EastNews
Show Comments
Show Comments