BAGHDAD – Many Iraqis were surprised when an Iraqi reporter hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush during a press conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday. While some Iraqis were shocked, others said the shoe-throwing was an act of valor.
But in general, many Iraqis believe that the insult directed towards Bush has really reflected badly on them – particularly because of their long history of traditions and customs that focus on respecting the guest – even if that guest is considered an "enemy."
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"It is a reckless act and it will have bad effect on Iraqi journalists," said Emad Saleem, 40, a reporter for the Saudi Akhabria satellite TV channel. "Our picture as people of the fourth power will be weakened."
Mais Hassan, a 35-year-old editor for the Iraqi Belad newspaper, agreed. "This is not the good way to express one's resentment. The correspondent could yell at Bush or curse him to show his objection to his policies in Iraq."
Aida Mohammed, a 42-year-old housewife, took issue with the act because she believed it reflected badly on all Iraqis. "This is impolite act and it is not like the Iraqis," said Mohammed. "We are known for welcoming the guest – even if he is an enemy. Arabs say welcoming the guest is a must, even for one's enemy."
Likewise, Salah Meead, a 31-year shopkeeper, felt that the act was actually disrespectful to Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki. "This guy must respect Iraqi PM (Maliki) because he represents all Iraqi people. And if he doesn't have a bit of respect for Bush, because he is a criminal of war, then he can show it by, for example, leaving the conference hall. This act is against us (Iraqis)."
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But Salam Jabar, a 48-year-old journalist, defended the act of a fellow newsman. "We are proud of what the correspondent did when he sent two Iraqi missiles from his feet to the head of dirty Bush…History will record this act with gold."
Jamal Salam, a 25-year-old driver, was suspicious of the true intentions of the reporter Muntadar al-Zeidi. "I think this guy wanted lights to be focused on him. If he wants publicity, he is a journalist and through his good reporting he can achieve that. It was a wrong way to become a celebrity."
While the reactions to the shoe-toss vary, many Iraqis still believe that Bush has done well by them by making them get rid of Saddam Hussein and that he is not to be blamed for the consequences of toppling the dictator.