Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who became famous seven years ago after he threw his shoes at US President George W. Bush, shared with RT’s Anissa Naouai why he planned his act of protest and what torture he had to face afterwards.
In December 2008, al-Zaidi threw his shoes at Bush while the
latter was speaking at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s
Palace in Baghdad. The American president ducked twice as the
journalist pelted both shoes at him saying it was “a farewell
kiss from the Iraqi people,” blaming the US government
“for the widows and orphans and all those killed in
Al-Zaidi says he was then “tortured” while being
arrested. Eventually, the journalist was sentenced to three years
in jail, which was later reduced to one year.
Anissa Naouai: Tell us, why did you do
Muntadhar al-Zaidi: I did it because of the lies
coming from George Bush, who told audiences that Iraqi citizens
received him with roses. I did it also because the killing of
more than 1,5 million Iraqis and displacement of more than 5
million, as well as making more than 5 million children orphans
and more than 5 million women widows. And all that in addition to
the theft of Iraq’s national resources, destruction and the
splitting up of the country.
AN: So this was not something that you
planned…It was an emotional in the moment decision to react?
MZ: On the contrary, this action was planned in
advance. Maybe I’m revealing that for the first time to the
media. I kept a video tape which would have been published in
case of my assassination, but I wasn’t killed therefore the video
is still in my possession. I have been concealing the video in
order to publish it if the American occupation authorities call
for the continuation of my legal persecution.
AN: What kind of treatment did you face
after you threw the shoe?
MZ: The treatment was cruel. There was beating
and whipping. They broke my nose and teeth and leg. They also
used electro shocks on me. I received all kinds of torture. I
witnessed it with my naked eyes.
AN: How do people react to you in Iraq? Not
the government, but the people of the country. Are you seen as
some sort of hero?
MZ: I have already said I’m not a hero. But I do
represent the feelings of the whole Iraqi people. All Iraqi
ethnicities and sections went to the streets to say that all of
them are like me, Muntadhar. They support what I did because it
represents Iraqis, not another state or someone in outer space.
I’m an Iraqi and the demonstrations confirmed my people will
fight the US occupation of Iraq.
AN: Would you do this again if you had the
MZ: I’m not alone in this world. There will be
another like me.
US intervention in Iraq, which began in 2003 under President
Bush, resulted in more than a decade of bloodshed and
occupation.The US along with NATO allies launched the military
operation under the pretext of disarming Iraq of weapons of mass
destruction and ending the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein’s
government. According to Iraq Body Count, an organization which keeps
a public data base of violent deaths resulting from the invasion
based on medical records and media reports, approximately 7,500
civilians were killed during the invasion phase alone.
Many believe that the US invasion prompted Iraq to deteriorate
into the failed state it is being called today. Among such is
former UN Secretary General (1997 – 2006) Kofi Annan who told RT
in May that Iraq’s current fragile state can be directly linked
to the 2003 invasion led by Washington, which did not have a US
Security Council mandate.