December 17, 2008

Iraqi Politicians can't agree about Shoe Thrower

POLITICS - Outside of Iraq's parliament in Baghdad tens of thousands of people are protesting, demanding the release of the shoe-throwing journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi. Inside, politicians are arguing over whether to release him.

In Arab culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of deep contempt, and his actions have drawn huge demonstrations of support among many in Iraq and throughout the Arab world, including numerous politicians who say throwing your shoes isn't just an insult, its a democratic right.

See also "The Shoe Thrown Around the World".

Iraq's parliament speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, announced his resignation today after a parliamentary session descended into chaos as legislators argued about whether to free a journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush.

The journalist Al-Zeidi's family went to the Central Criminal Court expecting to attend a court hearing for him, said his brother, Dhargham. They were told the investigative judge went to see Muntadhar al-Zeidi in jail and that they should return in eight days because he was beaten so badly he was near death.

Iraqi officials have denied that the journalist suffered severe injuries after he was wrestled to the floor after throwing the shoes at Bush during a new conference by the U.S. president on Sunday, but the judge said that Muntadhar al-Zeidi's injuries were so severe that he would not be able to sit in trial.

Al-Zeidi was held for allegedly insulting a foreign leader, a charge that carries a maximum of two years in prison. Under the Iraqi legal system, the case is given to a judge who investigates the allegation, weighs the evidence and recommends whether to order a trial.

Throwing your shoes at a leader you despise is a democratic right. Food Shoes for thought.

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