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Saturday, December 27, 2008

The shoe intifada (rebellion)

"This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!"

The grim reality of assaulting a public figure is the aftermath away from the public gaze. Despite official denials the shoe thrower, Al Baghdadia’s, Muntader al-Zaidi was stripped to his underwear and beaten by the Iraqi security then burnt in the ear by a cigarette in the hours after his arrest on Dec. 14. Jailed since hurling his shoes at President Bush the journalist has yet to be formally charged and may face up to seven years in prison if convicted. Feelings are running high and a recent session of the Iraqi Parliament erupted in an uproar as lawmakers clashed over how to respond to the continuing detention. Conspiracy theories prevail and it has already been alleged, Maliki’s action was premeditated and the result of a request from a known terrorist to use the Press Conference to publically assault President Bush. However Zaidi’s family maintain his action was out of the journalist’s frustration with the American invasion. As with all torture, the intention is to coerce the detainee into a confession which can be used to political advantage. Apparently Maliki has apologized to the Iraqi government in a letter to the prime minister and asked for a pardon for his “ugly action.” It remains unclear whether this was a voluntary action or one taken under threat. Seems ‘son of a shoe’ protests will be the new trend in 2009 for demonstrating public disapproval. This may herald the beginning of the barefoot interview because already it has been reported at a meeting of New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority, an angry protester attempted to throw his shoe at the authority's CEO. His last words before being ejected form the building were: "this shoe is for you!" In Baghdad people calling for an immediate American withdrawal removed their footwear and placed the shoes and sandals at the end of long poles, waving them high in the air. And in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf, people threw their shoes at a passing American convoy. Even in Iran, “the shoe intifada”, has been hailed as the supreme act of defiance, with calls to have the shoes displayed in a museum. A Saudi Arabian newspaper reported an offer of $10 million (US) had been made to buy just one of what has almost certainly become the world’s most famous pair of black dress shoes. Considered now more valuable than more valuable than crowns, medals and signs, shoes have arrived on the politial scene. The original shoes were reportedly destroyed at a laboratory during an examination to determine whether they contained any explosives or hazardous chemicals; and their providense is still hotly disputed but would not be surprised if a similar pair found their way to the display cabinet as Monday as symbols of rage in an unpopular war.

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