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Iraqi Shoe-Hurling Journalist Merely Expressing "Dissent"?

The Times pointed out that symbols of both Bush and Saddam Hussein had been pelted with shoes by Iraqis, emphasizing that the protest against Bush had been "far bigger."

For the media, the highlight of Bush's surprise visit to Baghdad was the president ducking an onslaught of shoes and insultshurled byan angry Iraqi journalist duringBush's press conference with Iraqi PM Maliki. The Times' front-page photo caption curiously described the physical and verbal assault on President Bush as "dissent."



President Dodges Shoes in Iraq - President Bush, on a surprise trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, got a taste of dissent at a Baghdad press event Sunday when an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at him, forcing him to duck.



Steven Lee Myers 'and Alissa Rubin's Monday story, "Iraqi Journalist Hurls Shoes at Bush and Denounces Him on TV as a 'Dog,'" began:


President Bush made a valedictory visit on Sunday to Iraq, the country that will largely define his legacy, but the trip will more likely be remembered for the unscripted moment when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at Mr. Bush's head and denounced him on live television as a "dog" who had delivered death and sorrow here from nearly six years of war.


The drama unfolded shortly after Mr. Bush appeared at a news conference in Baghdad with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki to highlight the newly adopted security agreement between the United States and Iraq. The agreement includes a commitment to withdraw all American forces by the end of 2011.


The Iraqi journalist, Muntader al-Zaidi, 28, a correspondent for Al Baghdadia, an independent Iraqi television station, stood up about 12 feet from Mr. Bush and shouted in Arabic: "This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!" He then threw a shoe at Mr. Bush, who ducked and narrowly avoided it.


As stunned security agents and guards, officials and journalists watched, Mr. Zaidi then threw his other shoe, shouting in Arabic, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!" That shoe also narrowly missed Mr. Bush as Prime Minister Maliki stuck a hand in front of the president's face to help shield him.


The Times pointed out that symbols of both Bush and the dictator Saddam Hussein had been targeted with shoes by angry Iraqis, but emphasized that the protest against Bush had been "far bigger."


The shoe-throwing incident in Baghdad punctuated Mr. Bush's visit here - his fourth - in a deeply symbolic way, reflecting the conflicted views in Iraq of a man who toppled Saddam Hussein, ordered the occupation of the country and brought it freedoms unthinkable under Mr. Hussein's rule but at enormous costs.


Hitting someone with a shoe is considered the supreme insult in Iraq. It means that the target is even lower than the shoe, which is always on the ground and dirty. Crowds hurled their shoes at the giant statue of Mr. Hussein that stood in Baghdad's Firdos Square before helping American marines pull it down on April 9, 2003, the day the capital fell. More recently in the same square, a far bigger crowd composed of Iraqis who had opposed the security agreement flung their shoes at an effigy of Mr. Bush before burning it.