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Sock and awe: 10 years ago this shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist made history Open in fullscreen

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Sock and awe: 10 years ago this shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist made history

'This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog,' the journalist shouted. [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 December, 2018

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The dramatic gesture reverberated across the Arab world, where journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi gained instant cult status as a symbol of resisting foreign imperialism.
George W. Bush visited Iraq on 14 December 2008 for one last time before he left office, nearly six years after launching a cataclysmic war which devastated the country and galvanised a new generation of anti-war activists.

In a meeting with reporters cobbled together by then Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Bush claimed the devastating and protracted war, premised on the mendacity of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, was necessary for "world peace".

All of a sudden, Muntadhar al-Zaidi, a 28-year-old Iraqi journalist, stood up.

"This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog," he shouted in Arabic as he hurled a shoe at Bush.

Read also: Insultingly newsworthy: Flying shoes and their unsuspecting victims

"This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!" he yelled, before letting the other one fly.

Zaidi was wrestled to the ground, laced into and booted by the prime minister's guards then thrown in jail.

Hundreds protested across Iraq demanding his release. Nine months later he was finally free from jail, where he is alleged to have been tortured.

The dramatic gesture reverberated across the Arab world, where he gained instant cult status as a symbol of resisting foreign imperialism.

Many compared the incident to David and Goliath.

Zaidi received numerous marriage offers and lavish gifts from across the Middle East, while a Saudi businessman offered to buy one of his shoes for $10 million.

Some even called for the iconic loafers to be placed in a museum.

US and Iraqi forces eventually destroyed the leather shoes, which reportedly were in high demand after the seminal affair.

One cobbler in Turkey, who claimed to have made his shoes, said he received a thousand orders in a single week, according to The Washington Post.

An online game called 'Sock and Awe' even became a hit, offering players the chance to throw shoes at Bush.

In 2009, an Iraqi sculptor created an eight-foot long copy of one of the shoes and placed it outside an orphanage in Tikrit. It was eventually removed by the government.

Zaidi, who has established his own charity which supports Iraqi children orphaned by the US invasion, ran for a seat in the Council of Representatives in Iraq's parliament last May.

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