Throw Your Shoes at the Detention of Muntader al-Zaidi
According to the Associated Press, Muntader al-Zaidi’s shoe-throwing display of anger at George W. Bush is becoming a signal moment in the Middle East. The AP reports that Palestinian journalists are asking each other who’s going to throw their shoes at Condoleezza Rice. A jokey text message going around Saudi Arabia tells recipients that yesterday was the International Day for Shoes in Iraq.
What’s not funny is that back in Baghdad al-Zaidi is being interrogated, which probably means he’s being tortured. Iraqis are demanding his release, and for good reason: he’s not been charged with anything. Citing official sources, the AP reports that he’s being “tested for alcohol and drugs,” and I’d guess that the Maliki government is floating such un-Islamic behavior on al-Zaidi’s part as a way of preventing Iraqis from venerating him into a national hero while the government puts the screws to him.
The New York Times elegantly captured Bush’s repulsive response to the incident:
He also called the incident a sign of democracy, saying, “That’s what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves,” as the man’s screaming could be heard outside.
Remarks like that make it easy to understand why al-Zaidi is getting reactions in the Middle East like this one:
“Al-Zeidi is the man,” said 42-year-old Jordanian businessman Samer Tabalat. “He did what Arab leaders failed to do.”