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Yemeni journalist hurls shoe at ex-Houthi minister at Riyadh press conference Open in fullscreen

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Yemeni journalist hurls shoe at ex-Houthi minister at Riyadh press conference

Abdul-Salam Ali Gaber served as the Houthi government's information minister [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 November, 2018

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Former Houthi information minister Abdul-Salam Ali Gaber was struck by a shoe during his first public appearance since his defection to Saudi Arabia.

A minister who served in Yemen's rebel government before defecting to Saudi Arabia was struck by a shoe hurled by a Yemeni journalist at a news conference in Riyadh.

Abdul-Salam Ali Gaber, who served as information minister, is the most senior member of the Houthi administration to defect since civil war broke out in 2014. He made his first public appearance during Sunday's news conference.

Throwing a shoe is a show of deep contempt in Arab culture. An Iraqi journalist famously threw both his shoes at President George W. Bush at a 2008 news conference in Baghdad, narrowly missing him.

Yemen's Houthi rebels have been at war with a Saudi-led coalition since 2015. The rebels control the capital, Sanaa, and much of northern Yemen.

Gaber's defection dealt a blow to the Houthis' image as they battle an offensive by a Saudi-led coalition to retake the key Red Sea port city of Hodeida.

The Houthis have controlled Hodeida since 2014 when they overran the capital Sanaa and swept through much of the rest of the country, triggering an intervention by the Saudi-led coalition the following year and a devastating war of attrition.

The rebels have since been driven out of virtually all of the south and much of the Red Sea coast.

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