Online Journal
Front Page 
 Special Reports
 News Media
 Elections & Voting
 Social Security
 Editors' Blog
 Reclaiming America
 The Splendid Failure of Occupation
 The Lighter Side
 The Mailbag
 Online Journal Stores
 Official Merchandise
 Join Mailing List

Commentary Last Updated: Dec 24th, 2008 - 03:08:43

The shoe-thrower should get a pardon
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 24, 2008, 00:20

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

The shoe-throwing journalist Muntadar Al-Zeidi has been so badly beaten by the Iraqi police that he was unable to attend court. This hero to many within Iraq and without faces up to 15 years in jail for �aggression toward a visiting foreign head of state� under the provisions of a law drawn up during the Saddam era.

Thus far, he has been barred from receiving visits from family members and probably has no idea of the worldwide adulation his act has attracted or the way it has unified Shiites and Sunnis throughout every strata of Iraqi society.

The fact is he did what many antiwar individuals have been itching to do for years, although, admittedly, cognizant of repercussions few would consider acting upon their impulses. I�ll bet there�ve been a few smashed television sets during Bush�s tenure if truth were told.

There is no doubt that this young man insulted Bush, who, if he hadn�t been so agile, could have ended up with a nasty headache but, in the final analysis, no harm was been done. Indeed, Bush was later to treat the incident as a huge joke and word out of the White House suggests he harbors no hard feelings. After all, most politicians would concede that dodging any occasional flying object hurled by detractors comes with the territory.

In this case, there is no reason for the Iraqi authorities and courts not to adopt a similar light-hearted approach and, in fact, they have every reason to opt for giving Al-Zeidi a ticking off before letting him go.

Most importantly, Iraq�s government should avoid mirroring Saddam�s regime, whose removal advocates of the invasion now cite as the war�s real �raison d�etre� in the absence of weapons of mass destruction. Bush, Tony Blair and just about everyone else directly connected to this miserable misadventure responsible for so much death and destruction, justify their decision-making in hindsight. It was all worth it because we removed a brutal dictator and brought democracy to Iraq, they say.

This week, former British Army Chief General Sir Mike Jackson and the former British envoy to Iraq Jeremy Greenstock were singing from this chorus sheet between criticisms of post-invasion lack of preparation. It�s almost as though those who were up close and personal to the bloody action have been coached: �Yes, we destroyed a country, brought it to the brink of civil war, occupied it for five years, tortured, imprisoned and killed over a million . . . but, hey, no problem, Saddam�s gone.�

As far as I�m concerned, what they did was equivalent to smashing a mallet on top of someone�s head to kill a fly and nothing can justify all the deception, bullying and bribery that whipped a supine and sycophantic international community into going along with what the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was later to brand illegal.

Hopefully, they will receive some sort of comeuppance when Britain launches an official investigation into the Iraq war as Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised. But don�t hold your breath. There is only one word to describe such previous establishment-managed enquires: �Whitewash.�

Back to why the Iraqis should release the shoe hurler. Let�s pretend we believe the people saying it was all worth it because Iraq now operates on democratic principles. In this case, the Iraqi government should prove it. Prove the country has fundamentally changed by treating a protestor exercising his rights of free speech in the same way he would be treated in, say, Sweden or Germany, where he wouldn�t have been beaten up, detained without access to other people or be subjected to a 15-year life-destroying prison sentence. This is also a chance for the Iraqi authorities to erase the disgusting vision of a dignified Saddam preparing for his death being jeered at by gleeful and disorderly public officials.

Lastly, with elections on the horizon, the Al-Maliki government would further its own popularity by pardoning this overzealous patriot who allowed his temper to get the better of him while in range of the instigator of so much pain, suffering and misery. Further, if it replaced revengeful laws with more compassionate ones it would also gain international credibility and respect. Releasing Al-Zeidi would also go a long way to proving to the world that Iraq is on the road to true independence with a government that puts its own people first rather than kowtowing to the occupier.

I know that my voice is comparatively insignificant in the great scheme of things but, nevertheless, I would appeal to the good graces of Al-Maliki to display magnanimity, an essential quality of any great statesman. Give Al-Zeidi a pardon, bury the cruel relics of the Saddam regime once and for all and shoe your people that you are in touch with how they really feel. 2011 will see your nation free of a foreign military presence . . . Inshallah!

Now is the time for forgiveness and reconciliation to stem further dangerous division.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal
Email Online Journal Editor

Top of Page

Latest Headlines
Cold War shivers
The shoe-thrower should get a pardon
Honoring the infamous, exposing the dishonest: Part I
President Meathead
Waves of hope and change
International criminals
The Rick Warren controversy and Barack's bad timing
Gaza: The untold story
The enviable position of the Israeli Arab
Corruption destroys Afghanistan
You gotta love those Greeks!
Arab voters usher in hawkish Kadima list
Counting seagulls
The U.S. criminal justice system is collapsing
Christmas under occupation
India�s neoliberal elite
The knives are out for Pakistan
Try that one on for size: Al-Zaidi puts Iraq back on the map
Throwing shoes at Bush and Saddam
The shoe heard around the world