When American president George W Bush made a farewell visit to Iraq, he might not even thought in his mind that a souvenir was waiting for him in the press room: a pair of size 10 dark brown Iraq-made shoes. It was 29 year old Muntazer Al-Zaidi, a journalist did the daring yet heroic act of throwing his shoes to the wicked American president ever.
“It is the farewell kiss, you dog!” he shouted by flinging his shoes which is considered as the ultimate insult in Arab culture. It was not an instant outburst of anger or frustration, but was a well thought and planned feat. He bought those shoes deliberately for the ‘shoeing show’ from a shop in Baghdad’s Al-khyam street.
Indeed he didn’t hold any personal grudge towards Mr. Bush. He did this for his Iraqi people. In much more broader sense, he represented the mindset of the whole Arab community.
Applauds and praises poured from all over the world to this heroic journalist who is awaiting seven years of imprisonment. Did this world ever rolled out red carpet to real life heroes? I will say, no. Nelson Mandela had to spend 18 years in prison just for the ‘sin’ of holding his principles close to his heart. Martin Luther King was assassinated. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was gifted with a bullet on his forehead. Bhagat Singh was hanged till death after being ruthlessly tortured. The list is so long and if I go on, it may flood my blog.
Fortunately, Al-Zaidi is not alone. His employer, Al-Baghdadia television urged authorities to release him immediately and also suspended normal programming to play messages of support. Arab media too made an immediate positive response.
After reading about Al-Zaidi’s lionhearted ‘shoeing show’, I haven’t had any other option other than blogging to express my admiration to this brave young man. As a communication student, I have one more reason to proud of. He is also a communication graduate from the Baghdad University.
Unquestionably, he is a role model for youth, especially to communication students worldwide who not only displayed fearlessness but also perfectly showcased freedom of expression. Thank you so much, Al-Zaidi!