Muntadhar al-Zaidi

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Muntadhar al-Zaidi
منتظر الزيدي
Muntadhar al-Zaidi - Oct 6, 2020.jpg
Muntadhar al-Zaidi on Al Taghier TV, 6 October 2020
Born (1979-01-15) 15 January 1979 (age 44)
EducationUniversity of Baghdad
OccupationBroadcast journalist
Known forGeorge W. Bush shoeing incident
Notable creditAl-Baghdadia TV
Political partySaairun

Muntadhar al-Zaidi (Arabic: منتظر الزيدي Muntaẓar az-Zaydī; born 15 January 1979)[a] is an Iraqi broadcast journalist who served as a correspondent for Iraqi-owned, Egyptian-based Al-Baghdadia TV. As of February 2011, al-Zaidi works with a Lebanese TV channel.[1]

On 16 November 2007, al-Zaidi was kidnapped by unknown assailants in Baghdad.[2] He was also previously twice arrested by the United States Armed Forces.[3] On 14 December 2008, al-Zaidi threw his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference while shouting, "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog." Al-Zaidi suffered injuries as he was taken into custody and some sources said he was tortured during his initial detention.[4][5] There were calls throughout the Middle East to place the shoes in an Iraqi museum,[6] but the shoes were later destroyed by U.S. and Iraqi security forces.[7][8] Al-Zaidi's shoeing inspired many similar incidents of political protest around the world.[9]

Following the incident, Al-Zaidi was represented by the head of the Iraqi Bar Association at trial.[10] On 20 February 2009, al-Zaidi received a 90-minute trial by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq.[11] On 12 March 2009, he was sentenced to three years in prison for assaulting a foreign head of state during an official visit. On 7 April, the sentence was reduced from three years to one year.[12] He was released on 15 September 2009 for good behavior after spending nine months in jail.[13][14] After his release, Al-Zaidi was treated for injuries received in prison and later said he planned to "build orphanages, a children's hospital, and medical and orthopaedic centres offering free treatment and manned by Iraqi doctors and medical staff."[15]


Muntadhar al-Zaidi was raised in Sadr City, a suburb of Baghdad, Iraq.[16] He began working as a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia TV in 2005. He first became known as a victim of a kidnapping by unknown assailants in November 2007. Al-Zaidi has also been arrested twice by the United States Armed Forces.[2][3] He lives in a two-room apartment within central Baghdad.[17][18] He is of the Shia Muslim faith[19] and also is of Sayyid descent.[citation needed]

Ahmed Alaa, a close friend and colleague of al-Zaidi at al-Baghdadia television (barred in Iraq 2014),[20] in a talk on Islam Online, refers to "One of [al-Zaidi's] best reports" "on Zahra, a young Iraqi school girl killed by the occupation forces while en route to school." Alaa said al-Zaidi documented the tragedy in his reportage, complete with interviews with her family, neighbors and friends. "This report earned him the respect of many Iraqis and won him many hearts in Iraq," he said. Al-Zaidi once also turned down an offer to work for what he termed "a pro-occupation channel".[21] Friends said al-Zaidi had been "emotionally influenced" by the destruction he'd seen in his coverage of the US bombing of Sadr City.[22] On politics, al-Zaidi said "I’m Iraqi and I’m proud of my country." Friends of al-Zaidi said he utterly rejected the occupation and the civil clashes. They said he believed the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement was a "legalization of the occupation."[23]

Sami Ramadani, a political exile from Saddam's regime and a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University, wrote in an op-ed for The Guardian that al-Zaidi "reported for al-Baghdadia on the poor and downtrodden victims of the US war. He was first on the scene in Sadr City and wherever people suffered violence or severe deprivation. He not only followed US Apache helicopters' trails of death and destruction, but he was also among the first to report every 'sectarian' atrocity and the bombing of popular market places. He let the victims talk first".[24]

Kidnapping and detention[edit]

On Friday morning, 16 November 2007, al-Zaidi was kidnapped on his way to work in central Baghdad. Unknown armed men forced him into a car, where he was beaten until he lost consciousness. The assailants used al-Zaidi's necktie to blindfold him and bound his hands with shoelaces. He was held captive with little food and drink and questioned about his work as a journalist. During his disappearance, al-Zaidi was reported missing by Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory.[2] On 18 November, Reporters Without Borders "voiced deep concern" in a statement about al-Zaidi's detention.[25] No ransom demand was made, and al-Zaidi's kidnappers released him still blindfolded, on to a street three days later around 3 a.m. on Monday, 19 November 2007, after which al-Zaidi's brother picked him up.[2] The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees mentioned al-Zaidi's kidnapping in a December 2007 report that listed violent incidents in the media, in particular, incidents targeting journalists in Baghdad. According to the report, "journalists and media workers and other professionals continue to be targets for kidnapping and assassination."[26]

After his kidnapping, al-Zaidi told Reuters; "My release is a miracle. I couldn't believe I was still alive."[2] The editor of Al-Baghdadia TV described the kidnapping as an "act of gangs, because all of Muntadhar's reports are moderate and unbiased."[27] Al-Zaidi has also been arrested twice by the United States armed forces in Iraq.[3] In January 2008, al-Zaidi was detained overnight by US troops as they searched his residence. The soldiers later offered him an apology.[28]

George W. Bush shoeing[edit]

Video of the incident

During a 14 December 2008 press conference at the prime minister's palace in Baghdad, Iraq, al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at then-United States president George W. Bush.[29] "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog," yelled al-Zaidi in Arabic as he threw his first shoe towards Bush.[30] "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq," he shouted as he threw his second shoe.[30] Bush ducked twice to avoid being hit by the shoes. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki attempted to catch one of the shoes to protect Bush. Al-Zaidi was pulled to the floor[31] before being grabbed by the prime minister's guards, kicked, and rushed out of the room.

Al-Zaidi was initially held by the prime minister's guards and was later turned over to the Iraqi army's Baghdad command. The command handed him over to the Iraqi judiciary. Hundreds took to the streets to demand his release.[32] Al-Zaidi could have faced charges of insulting a foreign leader and the Iraqi prime minister. A conviction of these charges could have carried a sentence of up to two years in prison or a small fine, although it would have been unlikely to face the maximum penalty given his newfound "cult status" in the Arab world, according to a Middle-East observer.[33] An Iraqi lawyer stated that al-Zaidi was likely to get at least two years in prison if he was prosecuted.[3] Al-Zaidi went before a judge on 17 December. He declined to be represented by Khalil al-Duleimi, who defended the late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein before his execution, and also said he wanted to be represented by an Iraqi lawyer.[34] "I will introduce myself as his lawyer and demand the case be closed and Muntader be released because he did not commit a crime," said Dheyaa al-Saadi, al-Zaidi's lawyer and head of the Iraqi Bar Association. "He only freely expressed himself to the occupier, and he has such a right according to international law."[10] On the same day, al-Zaidi appeared privately before a judge from within the Green Zone. He was released from jail on 15 September 2009, after serving nine months in prison. He vowed to release the names of those who he said tortured him, including senior officials in the government and the army.[13][14]

Al-Zaidi humanitarian foundation[edit]

Following his release, al-Zaidi went to Geneva and announced that he had started creating a humanitarian agency/foundation. The aim of the agency would be to "build orphanages, a children's hospital, and medical and orthopaedic centres offering free treatment and manned by Iraqi doctors and medical staff."[15] His lawyer said that al-Zaidi "hopes to surf on the wave of support he has gained to do some good."[15]

2018 Iraqi election[edit]

Al-Zaidi announced in early 2018 his intent to run for the Iraqi Council of Representatives on Muqtada al-Sadr's Alliance towards Reforms ticket.[35] In an interview with Reuters he stated that "The main real purpose and reason behind my nomination is to get rid of the corrupt, and to expel them from our country".[36] Zaidi has been critical of US and Iranian involvement in Iraq during his campaigning expressing a view that "America and Iran are the reasons for the tension in Iraq". During his campaign al-Zaidi sought to criticise US involvement in terms of Iraq's security forces, arguing that; "We have American troops under the name of 'consultants' – we don’t accept their presence in Iraq".[37]


  • The Last Salute to President Bush, 2010[38]

See also[edit]


a. ^ Alternative transliterations used in Western media: Muthathar, Muntadhar, Muntadar, Muntazer, Muthathi; al-Zeidi also transliterated as "Zeidi" is an Arabic name, meaning abundance or growth or "one who progresses and makes other people progress."[citation needed]


  1. ^ Banerjee, Debesh (9 February 2011). "Bush shoe-thrower may get Delhi invite to watch himself on stage". Indian Express. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Kidnapped Iraqi reporter freed, says no ransom paid". Reuters. 19 November 2007. Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2008."Iraqi TV journalist kidnapped – press group". Reuters. 16 November 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2008."Iraqi TV station says kidnapped reporter freed in Baghdad". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d Faraj, Salam (15 December 2008). "Arabs hail shoe attack as Bush's farewell gift". International News. France 24. Agence France-Presse. Archived from the original on 18 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  4. ^ "Bush shoe-thrower 'tortured'". Al Jazeera. 17 December 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2011.
  5. ^ Weaver, Matthew (19 January 2008). "Bush shoe protester has been beaten, Iraqi judge says". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  6. ^ Khaled, Abu Toameh (15 December 2008). "Iraqi who threw shoes at Bush hailed as Arab hero". Middle East. Jerusalem Post.
  7. ^ "Iraqi journalist's shoes destroyed, says judge". 19 December 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Iraqi journalist's shoes destroyed after Bush attack". ABC News Australia. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  9. ^ "A shoe-throwing president?". Folha Online. 12 January 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2008.
  10. ^ a b "Shoe-throwing reporter headed to court". Top News. United Press International. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  11. ^ Arraf, Jane (20 February 2009). "Hero or villain? Iraq's shoe thrower faces judgment". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 12 March 2009. Zeidi … stood throughout the 90-minute trial in the court building …
  12. ^ Londoño, Ernesto; Mizher, Qais (7 April 2009). "Court reduces sentence for Iraqi shoe thrower". Associated Press via Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  13. ^ a b Nada Bakri (16 September 2009). "Iraqi Shoe Thrower Is Released, Says He Was Tortured in Jail". Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  14. ^ a b Naughton, Philippe; Kerbaj, Richard (15 September 2009). "Iraqi shoe thrower Muntazer al Zaidi freed from jail". The Times. Retrieved 27 January 2020.
  15. ^ a b c Bradley, Simon (19 October 2009). "Iraqi shoe-thrower launches Geneva-based agency". Swissinfo. Archived from the original on 26 September 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  16. ^ Karadsheh, Jomana (15 December 2008). "TV station urges release of shoe-throwing journalist". Asia. CNN. Retrieved 18 December 2008.
  17. ^ Karadsheh, Jomana (15 December 2008). "Shoe-thrower's brother: He wanted to humiliate 'tyrant'". World. CNN. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  18. ^ "Shoe thrower 'beaten in custody'". Middle East. BBC News. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  19. ^ Banerjee, Debesh (12 March 2009). "Profile: Muntazer al-Zaidi". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  20. ^ "Authorities close Al-Baghdadia TV in Iraq, force staff out of channel's offices". Committee to Protect Journalists. 18 March 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  21. ^ Mostaf, Hazem (15 December 2008). "Muntazer Zaidi…Proud Iraqi, US Critic". Asia & Australia. IslamOnline. Archived from the original on 17 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  22. ^ Ashton, Adam; Mohammed al Dulaimy (19 December 2007). "Iraqi who threw shoes covered U.S. bombing of Shiite area". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  23. ^ Naim, Hani (18 December 2008). "Muntazer Al-Zaidi as known by the people of Hamra, Beirut". News. Menassat. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  24. ^ Ramadani, Sami (17 December 2008). "The shoes we longed for". Comment is free. London: Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  25. ^ "Al-Baghdadiyah TV journalist kidnapped in central Baghdad". Reporters Without Borders. 18 January 2007. Archived from the original on 5 December 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  26. ^ "Addendum to UNHCR's Eligibility Guidelines for Assessing the International Protection Needs of Iraqi Asylum-Seekers" (PDF). Annex II – List of incidents in Baghdad Governorate targeting specific groups. 3. Journalists. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). December 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2008. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  27. ^ "Iraqi TV reporter kidnapped in central Baghdad, TV station says". The Jerusalem Post. Associated Press. 17 November 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  28. ^ "Profile: Shoe-throwing journalist". Middle East. BBC News. 17 December 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2008.
  29. ^ Myers, Steven Lee; Alissa J. Rubin (14 December 2008). "Iraqi Journalist Hurls Shoes at Bush and Denounces Him on TV as a 'Dog'". Middle East. The New York Times. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  30. ^ a b "Shoes thrown at Bush on Iraq trip". Middle East. BBC News. 14 December 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  31. ^ "Raw Video: Iraqi Journalist Throws Shoe at Bush". Associated Press. 14 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  32. ^ Abdul-Zahra, Qassim (16 December 2008). "Shoe-thrower expected to appear before Iraqi judge". World news. Houston Chronicle. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 20 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  33. ^ Rashad, Muhieddin; Yahya Barzanji (15 December 2008). "Family: Shoe thrower hates both US, Iran role". Africa & Middle East. International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  34. ^ "Shoe-thrower rejects Saddam defender, many other offers". Trend News Agency. 17 December 2008. Archived from the original on 19 December 2008. Retrieved 17 December 2008.
  35. ^ "Muntader al-Zaidi: Iraq shoe-thrower standing for parliament". BBC. 2 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  36. ^ "Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at Bush stands for parliament". reuters. 11 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  37. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Iraqi shoe-thrower promises to boot corruption out of politics as MP". Middle East Eye. 11 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  38. ^ Karam, Zeina (14 December 2010). "Iraqi shoe thrower signs his first book in Beirut". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 22 December 2018.

External links[edit]

Media related to Muntadhar al-Zaidi at Wikimedia Commons