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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. kathy

    . I hear people complaining about the USA being there, would these same people complain when they have a catastrophe, and the USA is the first one there to offer help. Then I hear no laughs or giggles.
    Our men and women are dying there to, just to give these ungreatfull people the right to throw a shoe.
    The quicker we are out of there the better, then they can go back to the good old days.
    And yes I agree Bush is not even close to what a Present should stand for, but he is still our President, WHERE IS OUR PATRIOTISM? WHEN DID WE STOP BEING PROUD OF OUR COUNTRY? And for those that are so unhappy here, LEAVE!!!!!!!!

    December 17, 2008 at 11:35 am |
  2. Mrs. Shrestha from Silver Spring MD

    First of all he is uncivilized person. Throwing shoes to your gest how low you can go. Throwing a shoes to Bush means thowing a shoes to their precident. He is stupid and uncivilized journalist. shame on him.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:41 am |
  3. Tammy Marshall

    I cannot believe that people think that it is okay to laugh at the shoe incident. It is not okay and never will be. It's funny how grown people turn into children when they don't like someone. We teach our children to be good people and to help others when they are in need and in danger. This is exactly what we did for them, gave them the freedom to throw a shoe if they are mad. God knows he never could have done that a few years ago and lived to tell about it. Another thing people, we are hated because we have to police the world. We wouldn't have to if other people actually took an active role to bring all of these bad dictators down where their own people are afraid of them. I'm proud to be an American and they should be thankful someone can throw a shoe and still wake up tomorrow and not worry they or their whole family can be wiped out.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:40 am |
  4. Don

    The funny part to me is not the shoe throwing, it's Bush's "who cares" attitude about it. To Arabs, this is the ultimate insult. To Bush, it's just some guy trying to get attention. Too bad he missed. If it had been me, I would have caught the shoes and thrown them back. Now that would have been a news story!! As it stands, the meaning is lost on the insultee, so punishing this man is pointless.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:39 am |
  5. Judy

    So sad that the shoe missed,,,,but my son is now in Kabul....this is his third time that he has served in a war zone in five years....My son serves his county with the proud love that both his father and I did and his grandfather and two of his uncles. But one must look at the big picture we are asking our men and women to serce in a war that we did not need to be in from the very beginning. The big Joke is that we think that we have to stick our nose into everyone's business. I am not saying that we need to act like France, always having our hands out but not helping people in need but I think that there are times when we need stay home and take care of our own.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:39 am |
  6. Tom, Golden

    I respect our country. I have NO respect for Bush. Our shame is having him around for 8 years. The US has found it's shame in electing him twice. I say he should have been booted out a long time ago.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:38 am |
  7. Dasboot

    Was anyone else struck by how long it took the Secret Service to respond to this guy. I mean, he had time to take off and throw the second shoe after throwing the first. Interesting.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:37 am |
  8. Mitch from Philly

    I'm of two minds on this one.

    On the one hand, if journalists are to function as a "protected observer" - that is, given access to information and not subject to threats - then it follows that they should stick with observing, recording and reporting.

    On the other hand, given the rates at which bombs and incendiaries get thrown around, throwing shoes seems an improvement, and might even be encouraged.

    Can anyone estimate the cost of giving each man, woman and child in Iraq two new pair of shoes, compared to the current and expected expenditures?

    December 17, 2008 at 10:36 am |
  9. jomo

    Robinson-You're kinda late...the U.S.A. HAS been a big joke for a while now. It's # 17 worldwide in education, can't speak a second language to save it's life, lags behind Cuba in critical health care, has given up the universal standard of exchange status that the dollar had in most developed countries to the Euro, has had to outsource it's production of goods and services to be profitable, can't make decent armor for it's troops, can't trust it's overseas intelligence service, has handed it's fuel supply over to international speculators, can't afford to keep it's bridges from collapsing, has let it's finance industry go haywire, has the world's highest rate of obesity, didn't learn a thing from Vietnam. Luckily, America is living off the fat of the past. Maybe it's time for modern Americans to wake up and smell their own shoe leather, bless their hearts.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:35 am |
  10. Jerry

    I think everyone is overlooking the fact that this demonstrated the success of our nation's efforts in Iraq. That journalist never would have done something like that under Saddam Hussein's rule because he would know that he, and probably his entire family, would have been tortured and executed for such an act. Because of what our nation has done in Iraq under President Bush's leadership that journalist has the right to express his outrage/opinion/disagreement, even if it was in an insulting, outrageous way. Personally, I think the guy who threw the shoes was acting like a jerk, but I'm excited about seeing the freedom of speech, including the freedom to disagree with the government, in Iraq.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:35 am |
  11. Pam

    How sad that my first reaction to the shoe toss was to laugh at G-dub. I love my country and had always respected the office of the president until he brought it to an all time low. Respect is easy to lose and hard to regain. Hopefully we Americans are getting ready to start earning back the respect of the world.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:34 am |
  12. josh

    You leftists nitwits are gonna sing a different tune in a few years when Obama does MORE DAMAGE to this country (and the world that loves him so much) than Bush ever could. I LOL at you!

    December 17, 2008 at 10:34 am |
  13. oh hello

    if he can dodge the vietnam war, he should be able to dodge a shoe

    December 17, 2008 at 10:33 am |
  14. Lucas

    The ultimate insult? What happenend to the good old days, when sending children to the market, with bombs strapped around their waists, was enough to get our attention?

    December 17, 2008 at 10:32 am |
  15. Burning Man

    Throwing shoes actually shows progress in Iraq. It was a non-violent way of showing displeasure of some one or their past actions. True, it has a way to go yet, but it does show that bombs and guns are not the only method of showing displeasure of a person or policies.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:32 am |
  16. snow flys

    I see it as an insult to President Bush, but also an insult to our country, whether we like it or not Bush is the face of the United States. I think Americans should be quite offended. As a side note, I am sick of the Bush bickering. I pledge my allegiance to America regardless of what political party is in the oval office. Bush is our president, but America is much more than one man.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:31 am |
  17. Kurt

    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.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  18. DF-VA

    Most Americans are so drained by this president and ALL of the sinister secret organizations that he represent and who TRULY run this country. Good riddance Bush.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  19. Dereq

    In the U.S., you get shot at for stepping into someone's yard. That wouldn't happen if you weren't there trespassing in the first place, right? Maybe the U.S. as self-appointed world police should get out of other people's back yards. Perhaps, then, they wouldn't have to worry about having things thrown at them.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  20. Fred

    What a pity that this man who's shown so much disrespect and disdain for others has had a taste for himself. I don't think the thrower meant disrespect to America at all. The world thinks Bush is a joke, they only now wonder about the rest of us after we elected him twice (sorta).

    World leaders would have been throwing shoes at Bush long before this if they didn't realise that in spite of what he did and has tried to do, America still holds a special place on the world stage.

    For those of you who trumpet the "liberation" of Iraq, remember we did virtually nothing to help Iraqi's until this opportunity to scapegoat them for 911. Invasion on false pretenses wasn't necessary for us to do the right thing.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  21. Diane

    Shoe throwing means nothing to the average American – no insult, disgrace, humiliation, etc. For us it just boils down to something quite childish – a great big 'So what?' It only really affects people in the Arab world where shoe throwing is considered an insult. We'll have forgotten this event completely in a week or so, along with Bush when he leaves office in January.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:29 am |
  22. RW

    I'm not American, but respecting each other despite our differences should be every nations pride. Unfortunately this is a reflection on innocent Iraqi people

    December 17, 2008 at 10:28 am |
  23. Thorlund

    I wonder what the Arabs think about the long-run consequences of behaving like a jerk – Like trust, lost business and no shoes

    December 17, 2008 at 10:27 am |
  24. Sean

    funny, has Bush not kept you all safe since 911? Americans should be outraged! This fool was only able to throw this shoe thanks to the sacrifices of brave men and women from this country. America never had it's freedom handed to it, it was fought for, something these cowardly people could never do for themselves. YOU WELCOME IRAQ.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:27 am |
  25. Tapster

    It's ashame he ducked...LOL

    December 17, 2008 at 10:27 am |
  26. V. H. Jones

    I've received more than one email suggesting that Americans who wish to send a commentary to the outgoing President should do so by sending shoes to the White House. We can only hope that the white House staffers will give them to charity instead of just throwing the pairs out. It is an intriguing idea.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:27 am |
  27. Mona

    Why on earth should anyone respect this "president"? Shoes are the least of what should be thrown at him. Respect is earned, not a right of the presidency. Bush has shown nothing but contempt for the American people, the international community, and the autonomy of other countries – why then should he and the office of president be respected? I say let's all throw shoes! I wish I had thought of it first, I'm jealous!

    December 17, 2008 at 10:25 am |
  28. HAVOC1NY

    TO:
    Kristen-University Park, PA wrote :
    December 16th, 2008 3:51 pm ET

    I am surprised more Americans are not outraged. Even though you may not agree with what Bush has done, he is still the President of this country and that was a blatant act of disrespect, not only towards Bush but towards this country.

    I am by far no supporter of Bush, but still disrespect towards any US President should not be tolerated.

    And just what would you have us do ? Invade their country... bomb them? Isn't this act called freedom of speech or expression... which is what GWB said is the main reason for us being there ? to creat a democracy?

    December 17, 2008 at 10:24 am |
  29. Tony

    I'm curious to the lady that wrote it wasn't only an insult to the President of the United States, but to our entire country. I respectfully disagree. Bush went against many of us in this country(and other countries) by invading Iraq and used fear to convince half of the simple minded folks that were with him. I don't think that was insult to the US or a display of frustration towards any one except Bush. Let's try to look at it from their prospective(or stand in their shoes).... What if another country invades the United States and kill men, women, children, or even Bush since his approval rating is comparable to that of Suddam Husseins when we took him out. All over Oil. If that happened here would you like to throw a shoe?

    December 17, 2008 at 10:24 am |
  30. Syed Sajjad

    The interesting thing is after 8 years of the worst presidency in the history of United States, he doesn't know why the reporter threw his shoes at him.

    December 17, 2008 at 10:24 am |
  31. sand

    Its just a shoe It didn't kill anyone!

    December 17, 2008 at 10:22 am |
  32. Robinson

    You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Whether you agree with our President or not you should respect our country and its President. The U.S.A is becoming a BIG joke!!! We all need to stick together.

    December 17, 2008 at 9:12 am |
  33. Brandi - bottom of the boot

    i wonder if the Iraqi people who are hailing this guy a hero are upset that most of us Americans are laughing about the whole thing?

    December 16, 2008 at 6:15 pm |
  34. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    I have to admit that it was quite refreshing to see someone actually doing to G W Bush what many Americans have secretly been wishing they could do themselves ! Too bad the shoes missed ! They just might have knocked some sense into that stubborn ignorant head of his had they hit home !

    December 16, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  35. hugh ~ cal

    George has been ducking the issues for nearly 8 years, who would have thought he'd go out ducking shoes!

    December 16, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  36. Gisselle - Houston TX

    This is the ultimate disgrace!

    Regardless of our internal issues, George W. Bush is still our president and I reserve the comedy for another time. I don't care what anyone says, no president of the world or any nation for that matter should be treated like a joke.

    This situation did not happen on SNL. The hatred spewed out of this man was real and if we don't take it seriously it will happen again; only next time the fool won't be throwing shoes but daggers instead! How uncivilized of him. I say shame on the people celebrating the fool and the atrocity of his actions as humorous!

    I am utterly appalled and disgusted by it all. When did we, as a nation become a joke to the world? What's happening here? Why aren't we taking this incident seriously when it really is?

    December 16, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  37. frieda

    As an Arab American, I am ashamed to see what that stupid and hateful "journalist" did. In our traditions, even if you don't like our guest, you offer them place to sit and offer a tea.

    I out outraged that some in the media are going along with this guy and even giddy about the whole thing. If that journalist did this to any Arab leader, he would have been shot to death by now. The fact that he is only been arrested, shows progress in Iraq.

    I am outraged that Arab world forgets that Saddam has killed 100 times more Muslims and kurds than combined 5 years of Iraqi war. Let's not forget Muslims have killed more muslims in Middle East than Israel and America combined in the last 50 years.

    Regardless of Bush's other policies, one thing we can not argue is that he took down Middle East's 2 vicious and brutal regimes. That you can not take it away from him and if the war caused thousand deaths, it liberated millions form these brutal regimes.

    December 16, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  38. Courtney Priester

    Yes, I understand how the Arab press may feel that the shoe-thrower humiliated their country's profession of journalism. Yet, the Arab press has been known to manipulate, mislead and to control their news broadcast. You mean to tell me that NOW they are ashamed of a man who threw a shoe at the U.S. President. No, I do not truly believe that. Obviously, they are afraid of world perception. They are afraid of the delicate situation which this kind of places them in. It's an insult to both the U.S. and Iraq's efforts with this war. Not to mention that the shoe-thrower's punishment brings upon a test of their new democracy. The Arabs know that the results of his punishment could affect a lot of stability (that they have worked hard to gain) for their country and for the U.S. really. Basically, this story has become bigger than "the shoe thrower", exciting ways of the old and new and they're afraid, not embarrassed. Bush has dismissed it the shoe thrower's actions as attention-seeking, but maybe they should be vigilant.

    December 16, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  39. Cori from Colorado

    I can't stop laughing at this whole shoe incident. I'm sure there are millions who felt the same as that reporter, and would be furious if the man standing in front of you destroyed your country. I don't think he was out of line one bit. Bush finally got "bush-whacked", a little too late.

    December 16, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  40. Kathryn Hall

    LOVE the cartoons! Will circulate far and wide!

    December 16, 2008 at 4:44 pm |
  41. Ivan Sanchez

    I can’t say I blame Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi who threw his shoes at Bush during a news conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. I understand fully how he feels and we also feel the same way! Bush deserved the shoes thrown at him, too bad he missed his mouth!
    Bush is a tyrant with no feelings about Americans and that much less for the world.
    Bush has destroyed our country so badly that It’s going to take Barack Obama years to clean house and put us back on the right road again.
    The world has lost respect for Americans all because of a dictator who abused his power!
    We stand behind journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi and as far as we’re concern he’s a hero to us! I hope he will be released without any charges!
    Viva Muntadhar!!!!

    December 16, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  42. Annie Kate

    Was the man who threw the shoes just throwing the shoes at Bush or was he throwing them at what Bush represents – the United States? As much as people dislike Bush its easy to assume that it was just at Bush, but on some level I think it was a message to the whole country. I would really like to know why this is such an insult in Arab countries – knowing the full meaning may give us a bit more to think about.

    December 16, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  43. Larry

    The shoe tosser should have manned up and challenged the potus to a fight mano-mano; instead he behaved like a child and threw a shoe-fit.

    There must be an Ed Sullivan joke in there somewhere.

    December 16, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  44. Chi Town

    Wonder if he ever threw any at Saddam... oh yea... he's breathing so I guess not.

    To this man I say "you are welcome"... the freedom you were able to express that day was wonderful to see. It's a shame you never had the guts to stand up before then... but hey... that's what the American military is for.

    December 16, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  45. Bev C.

    Let them all laugh, call, or write whatever they want. It was because of OUR military that they can now cheer about the shoe throwing, throw the shoes themselves, kill our soldiers, etc. You wouldn't hear a peep out of any of them if Saddam was still there. The faster we leave them all to themselves, the better.

    . . an Army brat

    December 16, 2008 at 4:03 pm |
  46. JC- Los Angeles

    If only the shoe thrower had thrown Bush out of office eight years ago.

    December 16, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  47. concern/denver Colorado

    Bush thought it was a great thing when they done this to Sadem ..so now I guess it stil a good thing ..that they have done it to him ....

    December 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  48. Kristen-University Park, PA

    I am surprised more Americans are not outraged. Even though you may not agree with what Bush has done, he is still the President of this country and that was a blatant act of disrespect, not only towards Bush but towards this country.

    I am by far no supporter of Bush, but still disrespect towards any US President should not be tolerated.

    December 16, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  49. Maria

    Marhaba Octavia,
    I think journalism 101course should include stripping shoes, mics and pens before entering conference hall.

    December 16, 2008 at 3:33 pm |
  50. Cynthia

    Hi Anderson,

    Where is Barney, (the White House terrier), when you really need him?

    C. Johnson

    December 16, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
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