In Lebanon, Students Find Hero In Iraqi Shoe-Thrower

*This was cross-posted on Huffington Post World*

As former President Carter ended his trip to Lebanon where he spoke to a crowd of students about peace and was only interrupted by generous applause, a soon to be former President was speaking to a crowd of journalists in Iraq when he was interrupted with a kick thrown at him, twice.


Considering the current state of the world, there are probably quite a few people in the Middle East, America and across the world who want to throw their shoes at President Bush, or at least chew him out (for the non-violent types). But Muntadhir al-Zeidi was cocky enough to actually do it.


Sunday evening's spectacle has made the 28-year-old Iraqi shoe-thrower, journalist and Shiite a hero. He has not become the "freedom-hating" Arab the Bush administration has declared a war against.


At the American University of Beirut students exchanged text messages mocking the incident and expressing their support for the al-Zaidi, who is now facing jail after being beaten by Iraqi security. Karim Makdisi, Assistant Professor of Political Studies, gave his perspective on the incident, the serious distrust and frustration of the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East, and the prospect of change under President-elect Obama.


"It is not a question of not liking American values or being anti-American, which is what is presented in U.S. media. It's anti-American foreign policy and I think there is a very credible and legitimate reason to be distrustful and angry with policy in the region for the last few years."


On the contrary, Makdisi said that in cultural and educational terms, American is more present than it has been for a long time, as universities open up across the region.


"There are all sorts of positive things that come from America but when it comes to American foreign policy it is way, way, way behind the rest of America."


According to the journalist's family, like Bush, he shares a frustration with Iran's involvement in Iraq, but it just so happens, like many Iraqis and Arabs across the region, he also wants the U.S. out too.


Though narrowly missing despite a second shot, he managed to not only steal the spotlight at the press conference (and the likely news cycle that would follow) from the President's control, but to strike a chord with many Arabs and inspire several Facebook groups such as "I'd Throw A Shoe At G.W. Bush If I Could..." which already has 2,024 members and whose wall's most recent ten posts feature users from Albania, Morocco, Turkey and Jordan. Or "Bush shoe thrower - Mundtadhar al-Zaidi fans," with 3,254 fans and a comment that reads, "next time use a Steel capped boot."


The incident has also led to a Web site called that is run by PopJam, to capitalize over the controversy by inviting users to try to throw as many shoes as they can at President Bush.


The shoe-thrower, who reportedly came to Lebanon for a journalism training course after graduating from Baghdad University, clearly wasn't concerned about the concept of "objectivity" which is a fundamental to any journalistic training, and neither were many of the students at the American University of Beirut.


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About Ahmed Shihab-Eldin

Ahmed Shihab-Eldin grew up in California, Kuwait, Egypt and Austria. He has most recently worked as a news producer for The New York Times and as a web producer for the PBS international documentary series, Wide Angle. His work has been featured in Frontline/World online, TimeOut, Washington Week and other blogs. He graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, where he know teaches a new media skills class. In 2008 Ahmed won a Webby award for a multimedia project called Defining Middle Ground: The Next Generation of Muslim New Yorkers. It can be seen here: His portfolio website can be seen at: His family is originally from Palestine

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