Last month, we all saw former President George W. Bush giving a speech at a Baghdad press conference. And we also saw something we didn't expect to when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at the former President. The attack erupted across the internet as soon as footage was released receiving over 800,000 views, it also birthed enormous amounts of political satire, web quips, street rallies across the Arab world and now it has even spawned a work of art.
A single, copper-coated sculpture of a shoe the size of a couch was put on a stand carved to resemble a flowing cloth. The sculpture was formally unveiled Thursday in none other than the hometown of tyrannical Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein, uh, former tyranical dictator that is. During the brief outdoor ceremony, officials and visitors walked around observing the sculpture questioning its oddities, like why in the heck there was a freaking tree protruding out of the shoe's interior.
Laith al-Amari, the Baghdad-based artist, called it a fitting tribute to the shoe hurler, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who has been giving a folk hero reputation in parts of the Muslim world and beyond. He stated that the work honors al-Zeidi, that it was "a source of pride for all Iraqis, not a poltical work."
Its location in sadaam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, which lies 80 miles north of Baghdad, is considerd a place of prewar nostalgia with some Iraqis. The shoe sculpture includes an ode to al-Zeidi. It talks about the virtues of being "able to tell the truth aloud." The truth al-Amari is talking about is what al-Zeidi shouted as he threw his shoes at Bush. In Arabic he shouted "This is from the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq."
Although Bush used his "cat-like" reflexes to dodge the oncoming projectiles, the image was powerful in the Arab culture. This is largely do to the fact that in the Arab culture, trowing shoes at someone is an extreme sign of contempt. For example, Iraqis bashed the toppled statue of Sadaam Hussein with their shoes and slippers.
Fatin Abdul-Qadir al-Nasiri, the director of an orphanage in Tikrit whose children helped fashion the sculpture stated that, "this monument...will remain a present for the forthcoming generations. They will remember the story of the hero(al-Zeidi) who bid farewell to the US President in such a way." You know with comments like this I can only imagine when the next group of radicals will arise and try to take America down.
Its not surprising to me at all that al-Zeidi, who was charged with attacking a foreign leader, was supposed to stand trial a month ago but that trial has been postponed as al-Zeidi's attorney wants a reduced sentence.
This really irritates me, extremely. While I know Bush was not the greatest President, he was still the president, and this nut wants a reduced sentence? Sorry, but if an American were charged throwing a shoe at an Iraqi leader he'd be locked away so fast your head would spin. He probably would be given the death penalty and America would be known as tyrants who hate other countries. But no an Arab man does it and nothing happens, we get to wait while he tries to get a lesser punishment. At least Sadaam got what he deserved.