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. Kevin, New Mexico

    This journalist certainly knew his situation and yet he was so compelled to express himself that he placed his future, and indeed his life, on the line. He demonstrated courage, leadership, (and considering the more common and explosive options in Iraq) decency. Can any of us say that Bush has demonstrated these qualities? Our only hope of never again having to suffer under a president as damaging and deceitful as this one rests with our willingness to stand up and 'throw our shoes'. Otherwise, what message are we really casting? If you don't at least scream NO and push away from a rapist, as far as he's concerned you're in agreement. I love our country. I am disgusted by George Bush. I am sickened to think that he represents me. Yet amazingly he has once again been incredibly lucky, it was only a shoe.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:54 pm |
  2. jake

    What the reporter did was a direct attack on the US President and the United States. As someone previously mentioned, it does not matter whether you support Bush or not. It is a matter of if you are a loyal American or not. Make fun of our President and our nation for being humiliated and threatened? If thats not unpatriotic, then i don't know what is.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:52 pm |
  3. John

    In essence, the actions of this journalist offer evidence that Iraq has transitioned from the era of totalitarianism to free speech. Disrespectful of President Bush? Yes. Would the same gesture been extended to Sadam? Are you kidding? I presume President Bush would prefer to have had the experience of having a shoe thrown at him then to stand in front being honored with guns held at the audience's heads. Evidence that the efforts of our country in the Middle East have not totally been wasted.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:52 pm |
  4. jer

    before you condemn this man,you need to walk a mile in his shoes.He has been through hell.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:52 pm |

    I feel that for those of you who think Bush did a good job was born into this world blind. I have never seen this economy in the shape it is currently in until Bush got in office. To bad a shoe was the only thing thrown.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:51 pm |
  6. Ryan

    You all claim that Bush deserves respect? Why? You EARN respect. You do not automatically get it because of a title. Bush did little to earn respect and deserves whatever insults (or shoes) are hurled at him.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  7. Adamu A.Gammo

    what happened to Bush in Iraq is worth a price just like the words of Medline Albright said during US sanction against Iraq which resulted to the deaths of many Iraqi children.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  8. joyce

    I do not support or like Pres Bush very much, but all of this joking is an insult to this country. He is still our President and needs to be respected.... My biggest fear of this whole thing was that the gentleman had time to remove both shoes, throw them before he was subdued...what if it was a hand grendade or some other weapon/bomb he threw..would everyone be joking now..Where was security ?

    December 17, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  9. CitizenUSA

    It's sad to see that many Americans are as ignorant as those applauding this act of violence. You might as well be a terrorist and go live in one of their countries. Anyone is entitled to their opinion of President Bush. Civilized people should use acceptable reasons to express it. What if your child threw their shoe at their teacher, or a Priest, Rabbi, Inman, or Guru? Throw one at your boss and see what happens. Whether you like him or not, the leader of our country was essentially attacked. That should be an outrageous insult to ALL Americans. It really shows the power of freedom and democracy. If the reporter had thrown his shoes at Saddam Hussein, the reporter would be dead!

    December 17, 2008 at 12:49 pm |
  10. Peter W.

    It's too bad he did not hit him!
    I am so ashamed of this country since he is president.
    Thank goodness this is soon over. Worst president the US ever had.
    And this lyer says he is a born again christian. God is crying over him.
    That's my opinion.
    Let's pray that Mr. Obama will do better.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  11. Aaron

    To protest against gaining freedom is pig headed. The only ones to blame for the death that has continued in Iraq, is the Iraqi people themselves. If it was not for Iraqi terrorism, insurgents, in-fighting, there would be no more death. We have given you freedom from tyranny by spilling the blood of our country. I have no respect for those that are not grateful for such a gift. Regardless of how you feel about OUR president, he is ours, show some respect for him and for those that have died for the Iraqi people.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  12. Linda

    The main point should be that Americans should all speak out with outrage that Iraqi's are hailing this reporter as a hero, when we are spending billions of American dollars and Americans are losing their lives to protect them Why are we still there protecting them when they want us out?

    December 17, 2008 at 12:46 pm |
  13. Jim

    This guy is a hero? I must be in the wrong business. I'm on lunch break now, but maybe 4 years from now I'll be throwing my size 16's at Obama or better yet the stupid media. Give me a freaking break.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:42 pm |
  14. ken hill

    yes – the shoe thrower should be given a merit medal by his govt. and be considered by the white house press corps for hiring as one of their reporters, don't you think? ken hill, port orchard, wa 🙂

    December 17, 2008 at 12:42 pm |
  15. Gwen Sancar

    The shoe-thrower expressed the disrespect of his country for Bush and for a country that reelected Bush as President. I wish I had his nerve.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:42 pm |
  16. Courtney Moore

    These comments which are praising this act and are supporting the Iraqi journalist clearly depict how truly ignorant the American public has become. It would appear to me that this reporter was not only throwing a shoe at President Bush personally but also at The United States.
    I would like to see what these same supporters would say if and when Obama is blatantly disrespected. No matter if you support our president or not – you SHOULD be an American first and foremost and demand the respect you deserve as a citizen of this great nation. I thank God daily that I am an American and wish I had been present to defend our Commander-In-Chief.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  17. Mark from New York

    Ken Smith, where was this man on Sept the 10th when had a dossiere sitting on his table which Condoleeza Rice testified to in congress named, "Bin Laden determined to attack United States". How has he kept us safe? Osama Bin Laden is still out there and this guy attacked iraq to settle his father's score rather than protect America by going into Pakistan and finding capturing or eliminating Osama Bin Laden. Your service and everyone's in the armed forces I respect and I salute you but your mission is flawed and has been since 2003.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:40 pm |
  18. Dise

    I mean who throws a shoe? Really.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Edward Klohe

    Too bad this "journalist" doesn't find some suicide bomber to throw shoes at before they carry out their act against innocent Iraqi civilians.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  20. Don from New York

    Forget Iraq. As soon as our troops leave, their president will likely need to dash to Switzerland or be assassinated. Let Iraq degenerate into chaos, and let them deal with it - without American troop support or money.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:38 pm |
  21. Tom

    Love the idiots in this country:

    1) Violent arab reporter throws shoes at President Bush = laughter.

    2) Semi-diificult question thrown at President Obama ("What's your relationship with Gov. Blagojevich?") = outrage.

    Any wonder America is quickly becoming a second-rate country?

    December 17, 2008 at 12:37 pm |
  22. Lee Page from Kite Georgia

    I think that is a very direspectful thing to do. I mean bush done a really good job if you ask me. But hey, as long as were throwing shoes obamas next!

    December 17, 2008 at 12:04 pm |
  23. Daniel

    Symbolic gestures don't translate well across a cultural divide. I thought it was funny to watch, but while in Arab culture, that's a "big insult", in the west it is not, and I highly doubt Bush felt "insulted" by the action beyond the fact that some guy tried to wing something at his head.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:04 pm |
  24. David Somuah

    Who cares? On the same day this man threw his shoe at Bush the Madoff fraud cost various banks $50 billion, and this is what is important to Americans?

    Okay, so someone threw a shoe at Bush. How is that any different from the millions of late night jokes mocking him, the "I hate Bush" t-shirts and bumper stickers, and the numerous books which are critical of him, many written by people who worked for him?

    You would have to be living under a rock to not know it. Bush is a laughingstock that very few people approve of. Now can we move on to more pressing matters?

    December 17, 2008 at 12:03 pm |
  25. Ken Smith

    To those who agree with the reporter's actions, please leave the country now and try to find a better one. You're free from terror on these shores; that's the President of the United States; the man who kept us safe at home since 911 and he's my Commander in Chief. My guess is there's not a real man among you; since you're unable to make a real contribution to our freedom, I'll do the fighting for you...

    December 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm |
  26. Charles B Hammond, IN.

    I voted for President-Elect Obama and I am adamently opposed to Bush' tactics and much of the result of his presidency.
    But I don't see someone throwing a shoe at an American President as something to celebrate. More than President Bush the thrower was snaring at the office of the President of the United States of America.

    So then, he threw a shoe at FDR, Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton and even President-Elect Obama.

    Sad to have seen the shoe thrown at Bush.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm |
  27. rajendu bikash chakma

    The journalist deserves to get official suspension immediately and president Bush ought to receive a sincere apology from the media house that employed the journalist. The ugliest part is that the media house shows public support for the shoe-throwing act. The media house should be grateful for the chance it got to expand its business with a healthy budget-sheet because president Bush cleaned up their Iraqi society from a fearful dictator. During the dictator's tenure, only government controlled medias existed. Pen is mightier than a sword. Journalists armed with their pen are the mightiest, brilliant and civilized people in the world. This young blooded journalist is however so weak, characterless and uncivilized, he damages the entire reputation of the respectable journalist society.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm |
  28. JD

    I understand the shoe throwing bit, but the concern should be, where were our Secret Service that was supposed to be protecting the President? They are suppose to be our elite and they were not even in the same room. It took several seconds before they were notified what was going on and then rushed in there. That was way to late of a response. What if that had been a weapon that was already in the room? Someone should answer for that.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:00 pm |
  29. Ryan

    Burning Man, it was a "non violent" manner of expressing anger? Really? He threw a shoe. Granted, it wasn't a grenade, but I'd hardly call it "non violent".

    December 17, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  30. Armando

    whats the big deal? the guy missed.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:54 am |
  31. Steve

    If Maliki, as head of state, had thrown the shoes then I would have been outraged. What actually happened was that one angry man, acting of his own volition, threw his shoes as a sign of disrespect and frustration with the leader of a foreign nation. If an American had shown such disrespect to the President then perhaps we could debate whether or not to be upset. As it stands, what is there to be upset about? Respect for our nation and our President must be earned, not given blindly just because. Besides, did you see the reflexes on Bush? Most people would have been hit right in the head by at least one of those shoes. Bush dodged and weaved like a real pro.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:53 am |
  32. Darius Krzywinski

    The best move W. made since he's been in the office.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:52 am |
  33. Donnie

    I loved it personally because it proved that we shouldn't be there screwing things up. Why did Bush feel the need to do this now? Shouldn't he be more involved/worried about the auto bailout and our economy – instead of making a few more photo ops that he can put on the wall of his texas ranch. The man has not been a good President, he's lied to the world on many issues and the ironic thing is that people here in the US expect everyone to listen and do as this country says. Those people – including the President have made this nation more like a bully instead of a leader. Our stance in the world community has taken a dive over the last 8 years and this incident proves that much of the world is sick of our failed policies. It's a wonder that it didn't happen sooner. To me it was an analogy that both shoes fell off – like our economy, our foreign policy, our domestic issues...this Presidency.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:50 am |
  34. Mike

    Respect is earned and neither our country and especially our current president have done little to earn anyone's respect. Military might, torture, ignoring genocide and cowboy diplomacy are not exactly what a country does to earn respect.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:49 am |
  35. jounaidi

    Frieda, the Arab American,
    Where did you get your statistics? Muslims have killed more muslims in Middle East than Israel and America combined in the last 50 years!!!!!
    Saddam has killed 100 times more Muslims and kurds than combined 5 years of Iraqi war!!!! Curious figures. You are the only one who has this secret! lol.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:49 am |
  36. Amit


    By your logic, the Iraqi people should be apalled that their past leader- Saddam, the tyrant was disrespected and ousted, just because he was their president. And no matter what he did to his people and people outside his country, Iraqis should always support him.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:47 am |
  37. Charanpal, Malaysia

    Its a reaction that America should learn from, people are not happy with what Americans are doing. Its not an isolated incident, it shows the extent of damage that has been done to the people of Iraq that make them react to this level.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  38. Lucille

    We can't control what the world thinks of Bush and Obama, but we can compare the world's reaction to their visits. Obama was given a warm welcome in Europe and other places in the world. We can only compare that with the welcome Bush is getting. Let's draw our own conclusions.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:44 am |
  39. Kevin

    All those who praise this act are hypocrites pure and simple. Does this mean we can throw inanimate objects at you because we disagree with you? Wake up people and have the courage to demand the same respect to others, regardless of who they are, as you would to yourselves. Perhaps then, we'd all be a little better off.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:44 am |
  40. zack

    I wonder how much those shoes would go for on ebay

    December 17, 2008 at 11:43 am |
  41. Greys

    I cannot stop playing it i bet if the reporter had more time he might have taken another reporter's shoe and thrown it at him.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:43 am |
  42. Greg

    Hey Anderson,
    I think its about time someone threw something at Bush.We should throw the book at both Bush and Chenny.I totally agree with Chavez when he said that they are guilty of genocide and they should be punished.Hundreds of thousands of innocent people hvae been killed because of the Bush administraions greed and I dont know why we Americans are not as outraged as the Iraq people.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:42 am |
  43. Diana

    While I regret that this is an insult to the president as a symbol of the United States, it says everything that needs to be said about the Bush presidency and what it has done to this country and the world.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:41 am |
  44. Florida

    What I want to know is, what the heck is he doing over there anyway spending more of our tax dollars. Was this trip necessary?

    December 17, 2008 at 11:39 am |
  45. Natalie

    I can't imagine how the world would have reacted if it had been a US journalist throwing something at a foreign dignitary. The world would be totally appalled. However, because it is Bush, the world is laughing as is most of America. You may not like the man but you should respect the office. I'm not an Obama supporter but would be outraged if it had happened to him.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:39 am |
  46. Jim fla

    As much as we dislike the ideology of several world leaders, would we, as a country trying to open up dialog in the world rather than creating havok, have thrown shoes at tham. No, such a sign of self-centeredness does nothing but enrage the world....and me.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:38 am |
  47. Get out the Bushes

    I don't understand why Bush was elected the first time because he has yet to prove himself a good leader. Our country at the end of his term has shown his leadership skills as well as what type of man he his. Our country is falling apart financially and morally. I feel that the country has been on a down spiral since 2000.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:38 am |
  48. Scott J. Martin

    Anyone in any country in the field of journalism knows that this behavior puts the industry back by years.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:38 am |
  49. Houst TX

    Some may say a president should be respected,but what about all the innocent iraqis who died?? What about them? The first shoe thrown was for the iraqi people the second one was for the Americans who were lied too! I'm more dissapointed a shoe did not hit the President.

    December 17, 2008 at 11:38 am |
  50. Teri McClain

    Those were the only good moves I've seen Bush do in the past eight years! Along with the shoes, he should have thrown him a brain!

    Does anyone know where I can buy a t-shirt, supporting the shoe thrower?

    December 17, 2008 at 11:36 am |
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