Yesterday President George W. Bush was nearly beaned by two shoes thrown at him by Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi (his first name is also sometimes spelled Montaser, Muntada, Muntather, or Muthathi). Before throwing his second shoe at the president who oversaw the invasion of his country and subsequent deaths of over million Iraqis, he said “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” In case you missed it, here’s the video:
On a very cold morning in February of 2007 I coordinated the amplified soundsystem at Code Pink‘s “Walk In Their Shoes” press conference on the National Mall. The centerpiece of the press conference was the unveiling of The Empty Shoes of War by Alison Flensburg (right). It’s a large plexiglass box filled with donated shoes from Americans from all over the country. On each shoe contains the name of an Iraqi civilian who has been killed by George W. Bush’s illegal war & occupation of Iraq.
Not soon after the Walk In Their Shoes press conference, the memorial was placed on display outside of Busboys & Poets, an independent bookstore & restaurant located on the corner of V & 14th street in Northwest, Washington, DC (about 5 blocks from my house). The placement of the memorial is significant because the owner of Busboys & Poets, Andy Shallal, is an Iraqi-American from Baghdad and has been against the war before it started.
Last night I was reminded of the shoes in the memorial and conceived the idea of putting up a small guerrilla thank you note as a way to publicly thank al-Zaidi for doing something millions of people around the world would love to do if they were given the opportunity.
#UPDATE# – 15/15/08 – 4pm
After the photos below I’ve added the text of a press release related to a demonstration taking place at the White House on Wednesday.
Below are some of the photos I took before putting up the note:
Call for his release and tribute to Iraqis who have suffered under US occupation
WHAT: Peace activists to gather with shoes in solidarity to Iraqi journalist
WHEN: 11 a.m., Weds. Dec. 17
WHERE: In front of White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In solidarity with an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush at a Baghdad press conference Sunday, peace activists will gather outside the White House with bags of shoes representing Iraqis and U.S. soldiers who have died since the Bush Administration’s illegal invasion of Iraq.
They aim to show support for Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at President Bush while he spoke at the conference on his “surprise” visit to discuss the war. Al-Zaidi is currently being held by Iraqi police and questioned on his actions. The peace activists are calling on the Iraqi government to release al-Zaidi without charges and have set up a fund to support him and his family.”
“It’s outrageous that al-Zaidi could get two years in prison for insulting George Bush, when Bush is directly responsible for the deaths of 1.5 million Iraqis and 4,200 U.S. troops, and 5 million displaced Iraqis,” says Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK. “The one who should be in jail is George Bush, and he should be charged with war crimes.”
The gesture of throwing shoes is considered a major insult in Arabic culture.
“al-Zaidi’s act of civil disobedience expresses the disgust that so many Iraqis and Americans feel towards a man who has caused so much pain and suffering,” says Anas Shallal of Iraqi Voices for Peace. “It is indeed a fitting tribute to the end of the Bush reign of terror.”
U.S. veterans who served in Iraq will also participate in the shoe action at the White House.
“Having one shoe thrown at George Bush pales in comparison to the suffering that veterans and Iraqis go through everyday,” says Geoffrey Milliard of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “Perhaps if Bush can see some more of these shoes before he leaves office, he will feel some of our pain.”
For more information, please call Medea Benjamin at 415-235-6517.