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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. Dan

    I`m certain that the flippant posts by many ignorant Americans would have a very different tone had the shoes been thrown at Barack Obama.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  2. Doug H.

    Reporter should be given a Medal !!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  3. Erica

    Republicans are funny. And this was funny. Bush has pretty decent reflexes though. On point, too bad his politics weren't as snappy. It was hilarious to me. And if it had hit him, it would have been even more hilarious. Now Obama, there is a man with integrity!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  4. Chut Pata

    Bush promised Americans forces would be greeted as liberators and heroes in Iraq. He did not say how the farewell would be like.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  5. Vince

    The jesture of shoe-throwing can be read in many ways. Even if the insult might not be targered only at Bush, we as a country need to excercise some self reflection and be considerate of other ppl's feelings before performing an action. That's just my opinion.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  6. Josh

    This entire shoe fiasco . . . is the ultimate symbol for eight years of a presidency gone bad.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  7. Heath

    I'm reading everyone condemning this act. I can't sympathize with americans as I'm Canadian and there is absoloutly no reason for anyone to still be in Iraq, which is what this poor reporter was conveying. All of you who are quick to denounce this would do the same if not worse if your country was occupied by another nation for no reason. Buuuuut I will give kudos to Bush, he handled it with a smile and docorum, I don't like his politics as they are only in place to serve the rich and his own interests but I like the man, I bet he'd be a hoot at a party.....

    December 17, 2008 at 1:22 pm |
  8. Pat Schick

    Someone asked if the shoe was for Bush or what he stood for. The reporter yelled in Arabic..."Farewell to the Dog"

    December 17, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  9. Jason Bourne

    What I have learned from this incident is that Iraqi people apparently do not have a very accurate sense of aim. They may need to zero their weapons better. The truth of the matter is that throwing a shoe is meaningless to us, and as insulting as it is, how lucky are they that throwing a shoe is now possible in a country of freedom. Let us all throw shoes at each other, it would be a more sensible world.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  10. A. Ferreira

    This is a disgrace. Society has allowed the most respected position in the land to be degraded to a joke. The political bickering has divided the country that we are not even willing to stand up for a fellow American, especially when he is the President.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  11. Michelle

    As a democratic supporter, at first it was amusing to see someone hurl a shoe a GW. However, why did an Iraqi get to do it? I say GW stands in line and everyone that lost a child or a job or a home with his help should get to through their shoes at him!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  12. Naheed

    This is what Bush deserved for his bad policies. Hats off to Al Zaidi. Shame on Bush and shame on his policies.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  13. Betty Cano

    It is sad that this country has lost it's respect for our president. We the people elected him and if we don't agree with him now that is our problem, but to agree to have someone else from another country disrespect him is like letting them disrespect all us Americans. If Iraq or any other country doesn't want our help then they should stand up to thier goverment to do something about thier problems. Oh yes I forgot they had Sadem and they couldn't throw thier shoe at him or they would have thier feet beaten. To all countries that have had our help (because it is our help otherwise they wouldn't have the freedom they have) Praise God you have a president in America like Bush because if it was up to many of us Americans we would not be willing to help and not because we don't have a heart but because after we put our childrens life in war for you, you turn around stab us in the back. And don't say "who told America to help" because when other countries are in crisis the first thing asked is whats America going to do to help.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  14. Lorenzo

    Outraged? No way. I take pride in the fact that we helped a formerly politically repressed country reach a point at which a person can demonstrate his discontent with a leader without fearing for his life.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  15. Kryszczjaniew

    If throwing a shoe at someone is considered the biggest insult in the Arab world, then I say what the heck. Everyone in the Arab world should take their shoes off and throw them at that evil man with a little oomph!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  16. Scott

    To Iraq,
    I am in agreement with you that Pres. Bush has not done an awesome job but... the job that he did get done allowed you the freedom of even thinking about throwing a shoe at anybody. You were only allowed to do this act because Americans came to your support and gave you the freedom to do so. Life in Iraq may not be what you want today but the Americans have made it possible for you to govern yourselfs as you want. Why dont you try to do this without our help, without the american lives given for your cause. Good luck (I dont think you can do it)

    December 17, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  17. roy

    a lot of hateful people in this world

    December 17, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  18. Steve C

    The throw was pretty accurate, I wonder if the NY Yankees are still looking for pitchers?

    December 17, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  19. l. mann

    i'm impressed he had the sense enough to duck and dodge the shoes coming to him. I'm just sorry he missed that nugget! the thrower needs more target practice. maybe it would of woke up those brain cells laying dormant in there that it is time to bring our troops home NOW!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm |
  20. Alok

    I am happy that this incident could bring a little laugh to Arab world after their long suffering and ignominy.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm |
  21. Mario Benis

    I am an american by choice. I love this country and I lived in many other countries in different continents. here is my view:
    the man got pissed off being close to the person who ignored all world leaders and institutions to invade his country for personal matters. if you think Bush invaded Iraq to free the iraquis, then you shouldn,t be watching TV, but reading and surrounding yourself with intelectuel people.when a nation elects a stupid and ignorant person to power, bad things happen and it happened in the past to other nations also. America has become a joke in the world because of man,s stupidity. the american people are wonderfull people. they want peace and prosperity for everybody. lets work on that with this new administration and build a new image for a wonderfull nation and its wonderfull people.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:13 pm |
  22. Barbara

    Kristen, repsect is something you earn.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:13 pm |
  23. Melissa

    This journalist that threw the shoe should recieve the highest penalty for what he did. Our president should never be disrespected in any way. He is our commander in chief whether or not you support him. Anyone that would have the audacity to throw a show at him should be imprisoned for life!!!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:13 pm |
  24. Barbara

    George W. Bush has been the world's nightmare for eight long, long years. He has caused untold human suffering, the extent of which we will probably never fully appreciate. If having a couple of shoes thrown his way is the worst price he pays, he is getting off very easy.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:12 pm |
  25. AZ

    I guess this guy was the REAL shoe bomber, huh?
    Anywho, I heard he has offered apology to Bush... for throwing the wrong size at him. He meant to send off Shaq-sized sneakers.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  26. Craig in Virginia

    It may seem odd, but this is what we've been fighting for. We've been trying to liberate Iraq, and now they feel liberated and free enough to express their opinions. This is a good thing.

    People who get upset over this are the same people who get upset when US citizens don't salute our flag. Again, we represent freedom and choice, so why get upset when freedom and choice are expressed?

    On a side note, where the heck was the security? First shoe = sure didn't see that coming. Second shoe = secret service is sleeping.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  27. Lydia

    Shoe-thrower, you are my hero,

    A Texan and American.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  28. Lisa

    Kristin in PA – why should "disrespect towards any US President should not be tolerated." when Bush and his entire administration show no respect to any one else in the world? That whole if-you're-not-with-us-you're-against-us mentality has done immense harm to Iraq and America and the world. America in general has been interfering in other countries policies for almost as long as we'be been a country (from Madison making up excuses to fight Mexico to our overthrow of Allende and numerous other abuses). Is there any wonder why other countries don't respect us or our government??

    And before all you flag-wavers start calling me unpatriotic, I am a veteran who loves my country... but I am deeply distrustfully of my government. "It is the duty of a patriot to protect his country from it's government" – Thomas Paine

    December 17, 2008 at 1:10 pm |
  29. Wes

    Well I agree with some of the previous people, in that the reporter should be thanking Bush, and our military, for the freedom to throw those shoes.
    Saddam wasn't a very safe and stable person to have in position of power in Iraq. His ideas and plans for future terror on near-by countries would have done a number on the worlds economy aswell.

    Also, for all the people blaming our economic standing on the war, you're wrong, and you need to get your facts straight. It was due to banks lending money to people that couldn't afford the payments. Sure, we should of had more control over our lending policies, and yes they did get out of hand. Lending all this money out to people that couldn't afford it, paired with the soaring gas prices, led to this economic disaster. Bush, and the Democrats that have control over congress, are to blame for our economic downturn. However, you can't blame the economy on the war. This war was, in the long-run, a good thing.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:09 pm |
  30. Adamu A.Gammo

    The action takern by a jounalist in Iraq against President Bush is a threat to jounalism profession

    December 17, 2008 at 1:09 pm |
  31. E.J. Higginbotham II

    Where was the Secret Service during all this??

    December 17, 2008 at 1:07 pm |
  32. Ryan

    I am disgusted at many of the posts here. I am a retired Army paratrooper and proud of my country and for 20 years followed the orders of the President whom ever it was. Not only did I follow his orders but I defended him against other country's peoples who disrespected him our country and our flag. I am outraged when I here people in our own country disrespect the office of the President of the United States. I am disgusted when I here our own citizens talk about how the United States is at fault some how for these terrorists actions that somehow we bring it on our selves. You sniveling cowards! We live in the greatest country in the world and yes the world knows it thats why they all want to come here, and do we flaunt it........hell yes and why shouldnt we? When you hypocrits do well in your life you by things take trips and where clothes to show you are doing well and have done well. If you cowardly hypocrits dont like it here in the United States go some where you think is better, the sad thing is you would come back. The President is the United States and deserves our respect and our backing when other nations disrespect and or attack us, we elected by majority vote even if you personally didnt vote for him the country did , so support him you are crying now that our President elect needs to be supported, you hypocrits! Guess what those in the uniform do and will, stand up and be a proud American instead of a guilty ,cowardly, hypocrit living in the United States who takes their rights for granted!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:05 pm |
  33. Robert

    Impeached by a shoe!

    December 17, 2008 at 1:05 pm |
  34. MarkW

    My only regret is that the shoes did not hit the target.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:05 pm |
  35. Mark

    The incident may have implications far and wide, yet in my own view I am most proud of my son, who fought in Iraq as an Army soldier and sustained injuries while serving. It is people like him, that have fought so hard to allow the Iraqi people the opportunity to display their emotions with action, words and/or deeds. This is truly, in my view, an accomplishment an Iraqi citizen was not allowed to perform during the rule of Saddam. Perhaps, with this incident, it will raise hope that every Arab will understand that freedom requires measured responses and personnal responsibility.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  36. Byron Mulroney

    These comments are some of the most hilarious things I've ever read. It makes me wonder what it's going to take for Americans to realize what they've done to themselves and the rest of the world.
    The joke of the world ... and apparently you're just going to let
    Bush and Cheyne ride off into the sunset with their billions.
    Truly, I feel sorry for Obama (what can he do now) and a lot of Americans who have had to suffer through this mess, but the Lord himself couldn't fix the mess you've gotten yourself into.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  37. sabo yahaya aliyu

    the action taken by a journalist in Iraq against Bush is not a suprising thing going by the utterances of Mr Bush against the Islamic World.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  38. Henry G

    What really amazes me about the Bush shoe tossing incident is that no one seems to question why we, as a country, continue to allow the leader we elected to continue to occupy the White House so long after he has repeatedly demonstrated, as evidenced by his ever-lower approval ratings, that he has no interest in representing us as a country, but would rather pursue his own ideas about what is best for our country, or for his own personal interests.

    Other democracies address this type of situation logically. Once the elected official loses the support of the voters, they are replaced rather promptly. They do not wait for the next scheduled election.

    Wake up America. We need to address this logically, or continue to suffer by allowing our mistakes to go uncorrected for no good reason. This is true for not only the office of the President, but also for all of our elected officials. If they cannot perform up to our expectations, they should be tossed out. That is what happens to everyone of us in our own jobs. If we do not perform up the the bosses' expectations, we get tossed. In the case of our elected officials, we are the boss. That is what democracy is all about.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm |
  39. Eliza

    What is more outrageous than this happening is reading these comments on this board – Americans have become a disgusting, disrespectful set ... regardless of your opinions of President Bush, he is still the head of state and deserves a modicum of respect. CNN seems to enjoy promoting this story - we know already - you hate President Bush. Find some real news, like the fact that our head of state was publicly humilated by a low life pseudo journalist. That guy should come work in in America – he'd fit right in.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:01 pm |
  40. Raul

    Civility has been lost in the cradle of civilization. The downfall of Saddam has been the best thing to happen to Iraq in the past century. People just don't appreciate it. I hope this is a lesson for the future before we try to help someone else.

    December 17, 2008 at 1:00 pm |
  41. Bb from Canada

    Bush had prettty fast reflexes eh? watched the sslow mo. 20 times... hes a ninja

    December 17, 2008 at 1:00 pm |
  42. Alex

    Why are we trying to help these people who have no respect for our president or our country. I say it is about time we get out of their country and take all of our money and soldiers. Leave them to another maniac who will rape their women, beat their men,frighten their children and steal their freedom we have been fighting for. They only reason that man was able to throw a shoe at our President was because we have lost many American soldiers fighting for his freedom to throw a shoe. I bet if Sadam was alive he would have had him killed on the spot if he had disrespected an invited President.............

    December 17, 2008 at 1:00 pm |
  43. LyndaLBD

    The Shoe incident – actually it shows Mr Bush just how the entire world perceives him. He's done everything he can for oil production – and line his own pockets with money. He can't move back to his "ranch" as everyone knows where he lives so he's buying a property in an exceptionally high income neighborhood with locked gates. He should be behind bars. He's nothing like his parents. It may have been "disrespectful of the office of President of the United States" but he deserved it. I agree that the journalist did lower his standards in the journalism field, but he said what he had to say. And he has the right to his own opinion. He said what millions around the world have been trying to say. Our country is in bankruptcy because of the billions for Bush's war over oil. Weapons of Mass Destruction still haven't been found and most likely won't be either. Good riddance G. W. Bush, it was NOT a pleasure to know you. I don't appreciate the damage you have caused my country. I pray Obama can clean up the mess left behind and get our country moving in the right direction without being ARROGANT and bullying.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  44. Wynn

    (1) I don't think, people of the world dislike American.
    (2) I DO think, they dislike what Bush's administration did and has been doing in Iraq.
    (3) Bush has led US into Iraq (right or wrong) and as a result, hundreds of thousands (no one will know for sure how many) of Iraqi people have died.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  45. John Judy

    Mr. al Zaidi is a hero to many in his country as well as many of us in the U.S. His brave act of non-violent protest sums up the frustration and disgust felt by millions all over the world.

    Well done sir.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:58 pm |
  46. Greg from Sacramento, CA

    If you didn't vote for Bush, and didn't support the war from the outset, then you can say what you want...that's only about 1/3 of Americans.

    ...but to the other 2/3rds of Americans - yes, 2/3rds considering that was about the approval rating of the war when it launched - you need to stop absolving yourselves of your contributions to our world perception. Except for the few who still support Bush, this group is a bunch of panies who hide behind the mantra "we were misled in to this war" etc, etc. That's just a bunch of B.S. Bush made some extremely bold decisions, and only history will tell if they were good or bad. What we do know today is that 2 of the most brutal regimes are no longer terrorizing their citizens. What I find appalling is how our media so easily sways peoples opinions to the point that even those who got us in to this, seem to think they are victims, and try to blame our issues on Bush while they somehow have absolved themselves from their vote/support.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:58 pm |
  47. Chandira

    Wow, nobody has a sense of humour any more..

    I thought it was quite funny, but I'm English, and am used to people pulling faces at the Queen..

    You'd all laugh at that, wouldn't you? What's the difference?

    And let's face it, Bush hasn't exactly earned much respect has he? I can' think of a few more people who would like to throw worse things at him than a shoe.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:57 pm |
  48. RJ

    "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!"

    Right- killing 104,000+ is not so bad.... but throwing a pair of shoes at the person responsible is just too much....

    /end sarcasm

    December 17, 2008 at 12:55 pm |
  49. Tonantzin Nunez

    I don't think this is an American Issue at all, we Americans value freedom of speech and Bush commented to that fact directly after the incident. We have no idea what it is like to live in Iraq before or after the Bush Administration, so to try to comprehend the level of anger and frustration that was packed in that shoe is daunting. Let's wait to throw shoes at home when we look at our 401k balances.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:55 pm |
  50. rob denver

    On one hand, this is inappropriate behavior, especially for a journalist. While everyone has bias, journalists are supposed to attempt to cover the facts with little bias as possible. As a journalist, this man has lost his journalistic credibility.

    On the other hand, it is heartening to see such public display of protest against high-level public officials (the Iraqi president was right there). I am guessing the shoe thrower would not have been so bold in Sadam's presence. With freedom comes public dissent; in fact you cannot have freedom if dissent is not allowed. While violence should not be tolerated, this was a relatively minor case and far more meaningful as an act of protest than an act of violence.

    I hope the Iraqi people enjoy, and safe guard their freedom. Continue to speak out for what you believe is right, even in opposition of your government. Never allow the government or any other group to stifle your views, and do not stifle the views of others. Open dialog is the only way to build an Iraq that reflects the will of the Iraqi people.

    December 17, 2008 at 12:55 pm |
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