“shoegate”: that is what al jazeera is now calling it. and the euphoria is spreading, as can be seen in carlos latuff’s illustration above, as is the fear that muntathar al-zaydi will not fare well in prison. there is now a petition that you can sign to support him by clicking this link.
I started an online petition to ask for the immediate release of Montather. Please visit and sign it here. I’ll print the petition and hand it over to the Iraqi embassy in DC in case he was not released this week.
In addition, I found out today that Journalists Without Boarders did issue a statement last year condemning the kidnapping of the same Montather Al-Zeidi! He was apparently kidnapped for three days before being released. Please contact Journalists Without Boarders and ask them to put a new statement to demand his release this time too.
meanwhile people took to the streets today in iraq to support al zaydi’s heroic act to show that in spite of what the iraqi journalists said directly to bush, he does indeed express the wishes of the iraqi public:
Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Monday to demand the release of a reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, as Arabs across the Middle East hailed the journalist as a hero and praised his insult as a proper send-off to the unpopular U.S. president….
“Iraq considers Sunday as the international day for shoes,” said a joking text message circulating around the Saudi capital Riyadh.
Palestinian journalists in the West Bank town of Ramallah joked about who would be brave enough to toss their shoes at Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, another U.S. official widely disliked in the region….
Al-Zeid’s tirade was echoed by Arabs across the Middle East who are fed up with U.S. policy in the region and still angry over Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.
The response to the incident by Arabs in the street was ecstatic.
“Al-Zeidi is the man,” said 42-year-old Jordanian businessman Samer Tabalat. “He did what Arab leaders failed to do.”
Hoping to capitalize on this sentiment, al-Zeidi’s TV station, Al-Baghdadia, repeatedly aired pleas to release the reporter Monday, while showing footage of explosions and playing background music that denounced the U.S. in Iraq.
“We have all been mobilized to work on releasing him, and all the organizations around the world are with us,” said Abdel-Hameed al-Sayeh, the manager of Al-Baghdadia in Cairo, where the station is based.
Al-Jazeera television interviewed Saddam’s former chief lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi, who offered to defend al-Zeidi, calling him a “hero.”
In Baghdad’s Shiite slum of Sadr City, thousands of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burned American flags to protest against Bush and called for the release of al-Zeidi.
“Bush, Bush, listen well: Two shoes on your head,” the protesters chanted in unison.
In Najaf, a Shiite holy city, some protesters threw their shoes at an American patrol as it passed by. Witnesses said the American troops did not respond and continued on their patrol.
and for context sorely lacking in the western media:
“The family does not know anything about where is he being held until now or his fate and we are trying to know anything by all means,” Umm Hanaa, his sister, told Aswat al-Iraq over the phone.
“The U.S. forces’ brutal acts were the reason which pushed him to throw his shoes at Bush,” she added.
meanwhile there are those who are upset that al zaydi missed his target:
At a press conference with Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki, an Iraqi journalist was wrestled to the floor by security guards after he called Mr Bush “a dog” and threw his footwear, just missing the president.
Politicians around the world have expressed shock and awe that he missed the president’s grinning face, and insisted that if they had been there, there would have smashed the bastard’s nose right in.
Prime Minister Zapatero of Spain broke off from talks with union leaders to speak of his regret that Bush wasn’t twatted in the chops. His Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd released a statement condemning the journalist for missing Bush’s eyes and called for him to be tried at the Hague for “pissing away a perfect set up. “
There has also been surprise that Bush managed to duck out of the way, given that he has trouble recognising his own Cabinet and often mistakes the door to the Oval Office for the White House soda machine. “This is a man who once almost choked to death on a pretzel,” said UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, “how in the name of god was he able to avoid a dead cert from a few metres away?”
just as al zaydi’s imprisonment demonstrates iraqi collusion with the illegal american occupation regime, so to do the 11,000 palestinian political prisoners, a small fraction of whom were released today (anyone want to guess how long it will take before there are 227 more palestinian political prisoners kidnapped?):
Abbas spoke to the gathered men and woman alongside their friends and family in the Palestinian presidential compound in Ramallah. They were released after Abbas’ repeated requests to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who promised to release 250 Palestinians from Israeli jails before 8 December. A total of 227 prisoners were released, though 18 went directly to Gaza.
the 18 who were released clearly went from one prison to another, the only comfort being at least they will be with their families now–though they may be resorting to eating grass now. one woman from a village near nablus, who was expecting her sons to return today, died of a broken heart when she learned they would not be released:
A 52-year-old Palestinian woman died of a heart attack on Sunday when she discovered that none of her three imprisoned sons was to be released by Israel in Monday’s prisoner release, her husband said.
Rebheyeh Saleh Al-Qanni, known as “Umm Mazen,” was from the village of Kafr Qalil, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus. She was 52.
and meanwhile a number of palestinian women remain locked up in israeli jails as well, though this is often not discussed at all in the western media:
There are, at present, about 65 women political prisoners in the Israeli jails: about 30 in Hasharon Prison (Tel Mond), about 32 in Damoon Prison (Carmel Mountain), and the rest in several detention centers.
on a related note today richard falk was deported at the airport without being allowed to enter palestine to carry out his official united nations duties:
Today, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent an urgent letter to the Israeli Minister of Interior, Meir Shitreet and Attorney General (AG) Menachem Mazuz, demanding that they lift the ban imposed on Professor Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, from entering these areas. At the order of the ministry of the interior, the border police denied Prof. Falk entry into Israel yesterday, 14 December 2008, on his way to the West Bank to carry out his official functions. He was deported from Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv this morning, 15 December 2008….
In the letter, Adalah Attorney Abeer Baker argued that it is Israel’s obligation as a member of the UN and a signatory to various international human rights conventions to respect the work of UN representatives, to enable their human rights missions and to assist them in fulfilling their responsibilities without fear of repercussions. Further, it is Israel’s responsibility to grant entry to Prof. Falk as part of its obligation to adhere to the principles of international law protecting the Palestinian residents of the OPT.