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December 16th, 2008
03:16 PM ET

Bush's shoe thrower – a national hero and heel

Octavia Nasr
CNN Arab Affairs Editor

It all began with a shoe, the ultimate insult in the Arab world. What followed was a reaction of major proportions, reported on Arab media, discussed on Arab streets, and in chat rooms and message boards across the internet.

The internet is buzzing with several shoe-throwing games and comments in Arabic cheering on the shoe thrower. Special websites have been set up, asking people to show their support for the man "who dared" - as one website describes the Iraqi reporter who threw his pair of shoes at the US president. And a FaceBook group in solidarity - not with the reporter - but his shoe, is drawing thousands of supporters.

But not everyone is cheering for the shoe-thrower. While most callers to Al-Baghdadiya, the shoe-thrower’s employer, hailed him as a national hero, critical voices made it to air as well.

A caller by the name of Nasseem Mansour told the Baghdadiya anchor, "This man abused his role as a reporter and insulted the entire journalism profession. His meaningless act was carried out at the expense of the Iraqi people. Only Iraq loses as a result."

Media in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world are covering the story from all angles, with guests, anchors and reporters, not sure what to make of this unusual news story. Perhaps political cartoons explain the sentiment best:

In Saudi Arabia’s Al-Wattan newspaper, a political cartoon shows Bush entering the history books with the heavy burden of a shoe while US tanks burn in the distance.

From Qatar, Al-Wattan’s political cartoon has a sign asking reporters to leave their shoes outside the briefing room.

From Lebanon’s Annahar, two simple words, printed on the sole of a pair of worn shoes. summarize the end of Mr. Bush's era.


Filed under: Global 360° • Iraq • Islam • Octavia Nasr
soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. Kelvin

    Finally, after eight years as the worst President in US history and only a few days remaining, I respect Bush – for revealing his hidden talent (and only talent) as a fantastic shoe dodger!

    December 17, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  2. julian

    why didn't he throw a shoe at sadam, and be a real hero.

    December 17, 2008 at 2:07 pm |
  3. Osborne in KY

    This symbolizes the disrespect many people around the world have for our country and in this one man's opinion it is because we have, as a nation reduced ourselves to a large group of selfish, self centered people that stand for absolutely nothing. We have no moral compass and teach our children that it is only wrong if you get caught, not by what we say, but by what they see in us. We have lowered our standards as a nation to not offend anyone and now no one respects us... this is as much or more of a statement about each and every one of us, not just the public figures that get shoes thrown at them.

    December 17, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  4. Gayle

    My God what is the world coming to. I am not a Bush Fan not ever.
    But he is our PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. If you can do any
    better or could have done any better why don't you just shutup and run for office and do something. I really do not think you's all would want the job. I sure don't want it. your live is not your own at all and no matter what you do for the people it will please them or be enough

    December 17, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  5. John Q Public

    Those who think this is funny show a level of ignorance and stupidity that is pathetic. It is an insult to the US and to the 4,000+ soldiers who sacrificed their lives. Every US citizen should be outraged.

    December 17, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  6. Dennis

    Hey Jer

    Can't walk a mile in his shoes because they are evidence now.

    December 17, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  7. David

    You should respect your president, you should honor . . . yada, yada, yada. The truth is you cannot “SHOULD” anyone into respecting anyone else. Respect is something you earn. Respect is not bestowed merely due to title or position. In by book, Bush has earned nothing but disrespect.

    December 17, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  8. Gil

    To those who think that the shoe thrown at President Bush was a good thing, how would you feel if it was thrown at President-elect Obama? The bottom line: it is wrong to disrespect the office of the president – period!

    December 17, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  9. Camilo

    The man called Bush a dog as he threw the shoes, he insulted Bush, not the US. He should be awarded some sort of medal for finally bringing home to this most insular of presidents what his reckless actions have done. Perhaps we can designate a holiday devoted to him.

    I must admit though, that Bush's reflexes were great. Too bad his intellect isn't that responsive.

    December 17, 2008 at 2:01 pm |
  10. Mark

    Talk about disrespect! We should have turned that country into a glass plant instead of sending in our troops. This is the thanks we get? As far as the Americans that think it's funny....move to Iran and see if your still smiling next week

    December 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  11. SteveO

    I cant wait until Obama does something that offends me. That will give me the right to hurl something at him because, well, heck, I am right and he will be wrong. I hope I get the support of the fringe left and most of the journalists in America.

    December 17, 2008 at 2:00 pm |
  12. JP

    Where was this guy in Saddam' era.
    He's atleast breathing now, that's progress in a way.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  13. paul tsai

    I hope after G.I. leave IRAQ. The people in IRAQ ( including foreigner ) can throw shoe to their leader who they don’t like and still alive.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  14. Beasley

    The man is a reporter. He "reported" his nation's very strong feelings to the world. In doing so, he risked not only censure, but incarceration and even death if the Secret Service had decided to use lethal force to subdue him, something which I'm sure was only one itchy trigger away. Like it or not, he is a courageous individual with strong convictions.

    I'd imagine that in this country, mooning the President at close range would be considered an equivalent action.

    The Administration has argued that our forced removal of Saddam Hussein was in the interest of the Iraqi people. After all, political dissent back then was subject to imprisonment. What will happen to this political dissenter? Do you think we've gained anything here?

    December 17, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  15. Craig

    I've never agreed with Bush on this whole Iraq War thing. But I'll have to hand it to him, he did a good job at dodging those shoes - they were right on target.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
  16. Tony

    I didn't vote for Bush. I don't like him. But throwing something other than pies or water, something that can knock a speakers teeth out, is not cool and not ok. What is wrong with people? Everybody has a viewpoint that somebody else is sure not to like. How would you like to be speaking about animal rights or whatever and some animal hater throws a boot into your face? Funny? Or the other way. You're talking about pizzas and somebody who thinks pepperoni is cruel to animals hits you with their boot. The later night shows don't have real shoes being throw hard into the heads of Obrian or Dave. If they got hit in the head for real from somebody trying it wouldn't be as funny for them. I assure you.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  17. Babs O.

    I believe that this act was blatantly disrespectful to the Office of the President of the United States of America. Regardless of who is in office, this kind of gesture was absolutely uncalled for towards Mr. George Bush. Since the Office of the President of United States is greater than anyone individual, the incident therefore is a slap in the face and should by no means be tolerated and it is not funny in any form or shape, it was rude, disrespectful, and disgraceful. However, I must say I applaud the president for handling the situation very well.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  18. J.L.

    The Office of the President of the United States of America deserves respect.

    George Walker Bush deserves no respect. Any respect that Bush automatically got from becoming President 8 years ago has gotten burned up over the past 8 years.

    One comment I want to make about the comment by "CitizenUSA." It's kinda funny that "acts of violence" and "Civilized people" are mentioned... um, we're fighting a war in another country (think "acts of violence") and pretty much ignored diplomacy (think "Civilized people" part). So, still think Bush deserves respect? The way he's done things over the past 8 years doesn't seem like that acts of "Civilized people."

    December 17, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  19. Ken

    Although I have not read all of these blogs, let's consider this: Due to the ousting of Saddam Hussein and his regime, this person will still live. Ok, its apparent he did get the crap kicked out him, but what would've happened if he did this to Saddam? He, his family, everyone he works with, would be tortured and put to death. Ok, what would happend if we gave Bush the 'bird' or a Senator or Congressman? Probably nothing, depending on circumstances. The whole world is covering this, but i beg the question to be asked in all the Arab and liberal world...What would've happned had this person done this to Saddam? End of discussion.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:54 pm |
  20. tk

    It was our military presence in Iraq that allowed this man the freedom to act like an idiot. You think he could have done this under the old regime? He would have been flogged. So a simple Thank You from the Iraqis would be appreciated. Your conditions may not be perfect, but they are far better off thanks to the United States of America.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  21. Steve, Saratoga Springs, NY

    I am outraged–at how bush got away with destroying a country under false pretense. Too bad he wasn't hit with a bag of camel dung. He still doesn't get it, like he thinks he's a liberator. He is responsible for the death of over 500,000 people. The whole world should be ouraged. Bush responds by saying, "So". Cheney responds by saying, "So What". They got away with murder, plain and simple.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:53 pm |
  22. genta

    I am sure there are a lot of people that want to do that here. I didn't get offended at all by the shoe throwing i think he deserves it, i am offended by bush being my president. if he was elected as commander and chief he should have proven himself worth it, instead of throwing the country and the world in this big mess. I don't feel bad at all I feel bad for people that are losing their jobs and houses. the hardest people in the world, the people that take least vacation from the rest of the world, the people that trusted him with their lives. believe me he deserves worse than this, he and cheney deserve jail. he is a traitor to the American people not their chief.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  23. Ellen

    "...should be imprisoned for life!!!" Yeh, sure...after Bush and his cronies condoned torture (waterboarding), Abu Ghraib, defying the Geneva Conventions, etc. Americans need to realize that other countries and cultures have equal value to ours, no one is #1, and imperialism will end as it always does. Read history and see for yourself.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  24. Jonathan

    Props for the shoe thrower.. This is what happens when you are always in war with different countries during different years, if the President would go to France, South Korea, etc etc etc. The same would happen, The world is sick of US war policy and arrogance. sorry for the truth...

    December 17, 2008 at 1:52 pm |
  25. Joe

    Do any of these fine tolerant people who think this is funny or think the insane guy was right remember Sept. 11th. President George W. Bush has done just what he should have done, took the fight to the ones that want us dead. I don't blame President Clinton for the way he handled the terriost, but it didn't work. So President Bush learned from our mistakes and now we have not had another attack in 7 1/2 years, and two countries are free. Thank God for President George W. Bush. Oh yeah, before any one writes back about the economy, I agree everything President Bush was not right, and let us not forget the wonderful democrates in the senate and house, boy they really helped things.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  26. John Duggan

    Repsonse to Ken Smith:

    Ken, I really hope that some day you will be able to see a little further than the flag in front of your eyes.

    You claim Bush is the man who has kept us safe at home since 9-11.

    Where have you been for the last 8 years? The evidence is that everything this man has touched or ignored in 8 years has turned to dust along with the twin towers and you deem it appropriate to credit him with our safety since 9-11?

    What we should have learned from 9-11 is that our long-standing arrogance in foreign relations is untenable.

    Now, because of our 8 year detour around common sense, we have an economy in flames and we continue to sink $10 billion a month into the Iraqi enterprise to protect "our" freedom.

    Ken, you may continue to wrap yourself in the flag of patriotism and trot out your nonsense about fighting for my freedom if you like, but I am singularly unimpressed. You are not helping to support and defend the constitution .. you are helping to destroy it through blind devotion to the arrogant exercise of power exhibited by our dear leader, President Bush.

    I left the military in 2004 because I didn't feel like dying for imperialist policy hacks in the American Enterprise Institute or the authors of the Project for A New American Century who envisioned a global manifest destiny for the U.S. as the sole remaining superpower.

    Ken, I invite you to pull the flag away from your eyes long enough to see what's really going on.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:50 pm |
  27. Karen

    An earlier post said that it showed a "lack of respect" and should not be tolerated. Bush has not earned America's or the world's respect. I am surprised what the reporter said is not given more coverage. There have been untold deaths of Iraq civilians, innocent people, not just insurgents. This war has destroyed whole families, killed innocent people and leveled landmarks. How would any of us feel if this was happening in our country? As far as I am concerned Bush should be tried for war crimes. Respect? Bush has not showed any or earned any. Let the shoes fly!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  28. Karthik

    The fact that this act is being applauded speaks volumes of the world's opinion of the US. It is rather sad that when a country sends her brother's, sister's and children to die in order to liberate a nation, that such an act of arrogant and entitlement be tolerated. When we are needed as a nation to assist in the atrocities that perpetuate today, we step up militarily and financially and are celebrated momentarily. All our acts of humanitarianism are quickly forgotten as time goes by and we are vilified at the drop of a hat (or should I say shoe). We have not asked Iraq to foot the bill for their freedom. We have paid for it in many ways and what do we get in return? Disrespect. This ungrateful attitude should teach us to become more isolationist at least until we heal as a nation and strengthen our financial core.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
  29. Mahmoud

    I can't blame those who like Bush if they criticize the reporter, but if you don't, you can think about it this way. You are a US citizen, a man comes up and claims that the US has WMD, launches an attack on the US, outthrows Bush, has no succession plan, hundreds die every day, including your relatives and friends, that man says he is sorry, but he didn't find any WMD and all this was based on bad intelligence. Then, that very same man comes to the US to address the nation, would you think the shoe is enough???

    December 17, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
  30. Dennis

    It's interesting how some defend the act of a child, and a childish society that the Arabs created and live in. We have so many tell us how far the US has fallen with our education, infrastructure and the like. But how many billions of US dollars are sent all around the world to better their lives, while ours goes in decline. This is not Bush's fault this is something that has been happening for years. I am all for us in America to keep our money and spend it right here and make us the model society that we should be. Stop giving money to all those that hate us and cut the money even to our friends. You want to hear the world cry, you will hear a sound that would then strike pride in Americans when the realize all those we use to help. Maybe only then would we get the respect and true friendship that this country deserves.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
  31. Zap B.

    Kurt December 17th, 2008 10:29 am ET

    Good thing it wasn’t Saddam still in power. That might have ended differently for the reporter. He can thank our military for that change.

    Ended differently how? By getting thrown in jail and beaten to a pulp? Oh wait.. that already happened. Big change, right?

    December 17, 2008 at 1:45 pm |
  32. Ron Thompson

    It is a sad day when comments by folks like Ivan Sanchez" wonder if he is legal" says that it took Bush 8 years to destroy our country and he thinks hussein obama will be able to fix our country. Sorry Ivan, our country was down the toilet way before Bush got in. Considering the fact that hussein obama was barely a second year senator that didn't even know how to vote for fear of people knowing how far left he really is, thought he was qualified to run our country when he wasn't even a half ass senator. Lets see the birth certificate hussein and yours too Ivan. Don't worry,your rights will be taken away when the full damage of hussein obama kicks in and our country will resemble a socialist third world country out of control.......

    December 17, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  33. Eman

    The journalist who threw the shoe meant no disrespect to the USA. His words speak for themselves. He meant his gesture as a goodbye to heartless man without a scrap of conscience, who should be on his way to the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague.

    Yes Bush got rid of Saddam, and thank God for that, but what were his motives? A grab for oil and the corrupt enrichment of his cronies.

    Thousands of girls Jenna's age went to war in Iraq. Why did she not go? After all, Prince Harry went to Afghanistan. If Bush had gone to war in Iraq for the right reasons, he would have done it differently, and the outcome would have been different. Is anyone complaining about America's presence in Afghanistan?

    December 17, 2008 at 1:44 pm |
  34. DF-VA

    Bush should be imprisoned for life for treason(along with many others)for all that he has done to our Constitution for the sake of safety (just to name ONE of MANY reasons). George Washington stated," Guard against the imposters of pretended patriotism," and Benjamin Franklin stated, " Those who give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Wake up people! For all of those who think this president should be respected simply because he is the president, you have to realize that our sovereignty as a nation is being severely compromised and I ask you, WHERE IS YOUR TRUE PATRIOTISM?Please research the North American Union and the upcoming currency called the Amero.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:43 pm |
  35. Sue in Indiana

    Of course throwing a shoe showed disrespect for Bush. Wasn't that the whole point?

    That doesn't neccessarily mean disrespect to the office, or our country, just to the man and his policies.

    It's a modern day version of saying that the Emperor has no clothes.

    Free speech and all.

    Me? I'm mailing a pair of old shoes to the White House today.

    I won't be putting my return address of the package, though. With this administration, I could end up in Gitmo.

    Free speech here isn't as free as it used to be.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:43 pm |
  36. los altos

    I am sorry for the man that threw the shoe.He, in hopes of becoming a voice
    to his country is as lost as the cause itself. The "elite" care not about the laws of the lands, they just
    want the final say so, and they will have it soon enough.(not that they dont have it now) But they got to do something about all this shoe biz..
    Maybe they will wench down on economics so that people like "the shoe thrower" could never afford to throw away a perfect pair of walking shoes. GO ON WITH THE POLITIC-AN !!!!!!!
    We are all screwed and NO MAN and is politic-an will save you or I.
    False hopes are what great wealths are built on....

    December 17, 2008 at 1:42 pm |
  37. Russ

    If he hates his country so bad now, shoot him like the "old ways" under Saddam. If they hate the "american way" so badly why did he practice it by throwing a shoe?

    Bush may be a retard but you dont disgrace our President like that.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:41 pm |
  38. Mark

    I LOVE AMERICA !! I don't like people who disrespect it or the leaders we have elected. President Bush took on the great role and has done a great job!

    Having someone throw a shoe at our President is wrong! I do take it as a personal insult on the USA.

    I also feel shame for those who haven't grown up... and simply pass the buck.

    We as Americans need to be responsible for our own actions, stop passing the buck. It is so easy to charge it... get it NOW !!! If we were careless with our finances, marrages, kids, and homes.... we need to step back and take a good look in that mirror. REALIZE we messed it up and not blame someone else!

    We need to stop dumping on one elected official and try and make it seem that they put us in a mess.

    Americans lets be responsible for our lives and our actions. Take pride, get to work , save today and for tomorrow. Help bring back our nation. When was the last time we prayed for our nation and it's leaders, let alone for our own responsibility and actions.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  39. Sarah

    As someone who has had a shoe thrown at them as a result of a disagreement, I can safely say that it is very insulting in all cultures and that the act of throwing a shoe at a person is by no means the way to make them see your perspective. With that said, I don't believe this man threw a shoe at George Bush simply because he disagreed with him. Many completely innocent Iraqis have died as a direct result of George Bush's personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein and the Muslim world. One of the most telling statements of Bush's presidency was given the same day as the shoe throwing incident: that Al-Qaeda was not operating in Iraq until we went to war there. This man led us into a war with a nation that was uninvolved with 9/11, on the premise that Al-Qaeda was operating there and that Saddam had WMBs. How much bull can this guy feed to some people before they get full?

    The news reports always say things like "American death count in Iraq: 4,000". What angers me the most about this is the implication that American deaths are the only ones that should matter to me. It angers me that when some people hear the humanist perspective on the war in Iraq and George Bush, their response is "move to another country then." Its not anti-American to be opposed to the policies and actions of George Bush; its anti-American to see your country led into a downward spiral by a man who has lost the support of three quarters of Americans, and say nothing about it. What kind of democracy are we in anyways?

    Is this shoe-thrower a hero? No. Is it okay that he threw shoes at George Bush? Absolutely not – physical violence and blatant disrespect are never the answer. Does he deserve to go to jail for 7-8 years? Of course not. He threw shoes, not grenades...and he missed.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  40. Morgan

    Two things amazed me about the shoe-throwing incident: first, that ol' George could duck and weave like that, and second, the reporter throwing the shoes had a nice tight spiral on the first one. After Eli Manning got sacked so many times the last game maybe the Giants should look this guy up.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:39 pm |
  41. Old new lefter

    Well, it seems a fitting end to the worst presidency in our history. We baby boomers havent offered up our best to be president. The one boomer Clinton embarrassed us in front of the entire world and then Bush followed up b y shaming us in front of the world. The Iraqi's and the rest of them are truly third world primatives that offer no redeeming value to the world. Their only significance to the world is that they happen to live above a lot of oil. Lets get the heck out of there.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  42. Marshall Dodge

    I am by no means a Bush supporter, however, I feel these people in Iraq not only disrespected a U.S. President, but our country as well.
    We should leave them to their own devises and let the whole country go to hell much like it was when we got there.
    I am also not a supporter of this war and believe it was wrong to invade that cesspool. They have no value of human life and deserve to be treated like ole Mad Ass treated them.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  43. Ankur A at NJIT

    The shoe was thrown at the President of the USA and not to Mr. Bush which ought to be taken as an insult by the people of this great nation.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:37 pm |
  44. David Isakson

    I'm a US citizen and I think the reporter’s act was woefully understated. Anyone who feels sorry for George Bush because someone threw a shoe at him might wish to consider what George Bush et. al. have been throwing at the Iraqi people for the last seventy two months; namely cluster bombs, white -phosphorous, bunker busters, depleted uranium, “smart bombs” and nearly every other type of munitions in overstuffed arsenal. George Bush used deceit and guile to start a war that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq and tens of thousands of US casualties – to date. In my view, he’ll be a very lucky man if all that gets thrown at him is a shoe. No wonder he was never in a hurry to have the US joint the International Criminal Court.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  45. Adamu A.Gammo

    The action takern by a jounalist against Bush is worth a price.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:35 pm |
  46. Dave

    It's funny how so many are posting that this was an attack or an act of disrespect against this whole country (US). That is completely ignorant and untrue. If you bothered to listen to the translation he aimed all his anger towards Bush, whom he holds responsible for killing Iraqis. Try doing some research on the facts.

    My only regret is that he didn't hit him squarely in the face. He go thousands of our brothers and sisters killed fighting a war that never should have been fought, for OIL!! He deserves worse! History will be his punishment (so long as TRUTH still has value in this word). Goodbye Bush. Hope to never hear from you again!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:35 pm |
  47. IVAN

    I can't wait to read the commnents after a shoe is thrown at Obama.
    Don't think they love him more.... they HATE all Americans!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  48. james carey

    all of you who are crying about Bush and America and how he runied the country, if it is so bad for you, then pack your bags and move to Iraq. lets see how long you last.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  49. Wendy

    He threw the shoe at Bush, not the American people. During his tenure Bush and the gang represented themselves. Remember he duped us all into believing in a farce war. Bush is the most horrific murdered in the history of the world

    The crime by the shoe thrower, he missed.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  50. Karen Jarvis

    It must be easy to forget that as president Bush's inaguration parade rode down the street his car was EGGED by American's... now throwing a couple of stinky shoes is at the commander in chief should warrant lifetime imprisonment?!?! Give me a break. Yes, it was disrespectful, but it is being dealt with and let's be real, with all the bullets flying over there, was there really any harm done? If anyone should be held accountable it is the secret service. Not a single one jumped to his aid. This whole shoe thing could have been a diversion for assasination. If it is not being taken THIS seriously then it should be taken with a grain of salt. LET IT GO!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
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