Thursday, February 24, 2011

Man who hurled shoe at Bush held

Baghdad: The Iraqi reporter arrested for throwing his shoes at former President George W. Bush, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, has returned to the country for his first public visit since being freed from prison, and was forcibly detained for questioning Thursday by the Iraqi army. Al-Zeidi became a celebrity in the Arab world after throwing his shoes at Bush during a news conference in December 2008 and calling him a dog. After being freed from an Iraqi prison in 2009 at the end of his nine-month sentence, he left the country and had not appeared publicly in Iraq since. One of al-Zeidi’s brothers told The Associated Press that he returned Tuesday to join anti-government protests scheduled to take place all over Iraq on Friday. 
   Iraqi officials are on high alert ahead of Friday’s protests, which have been billed as a ``Day of Rage.’’ Iraqis have been holding a number of small-scale protests around the country to demand better government services, more assistance for widows and orphans and greater protection for human rights.
   Al-Zeidi left a mosque in a Sunni neighborhood of Baghdad Thursday and then visited a nearby cemetery. He was then confronted by an Iraqi army commander backed up by soldiers who said al-Zeidi should come with them for questioning. An Associated Press photographer who witnessed the exchange said the former journalist asked whether he was under arrest and the commander said he was not. Al-Zeidi refused to go with them and was forcibly led away by soldiers who gripped his arms on either side and escorted him to a waiting Humvee. Iraqi military personnel holding rifles forbid a crowd of photographers from taking photos of the altercation. A Baghdad military spokesman did not respond to repeated requests for information about the incident.
   Al-Zeidi was convicted of assault for the 2008 incident in which he threw both his shoes at Bush and shouted: “This is your farewell kiss, you dog!’’ His prison time included three months in solitary confinement and he alleges he was beaten and electrocuted. He now lives in Lebanon and is suing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who was standing next to Bush during the news conference. AGENCIES

No comments:

Post a Comment