It’s been a while since an incident drew such admiration, mirth, sweet justice, and surprise, but shoe-gate is swiftly descending down a dark and ominous track.
When the Iraqi journalist, Muntazer al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at the U.S. President, he expressed the frustration and anger of an entire nation, nay, region, at the abhorrent treatment eked out by a war-mongering, caterpillar-reading leader.
Al-Zaidi became an icon over night: a man who spoke out, refused to be silenced, and ensured that he humiliated his subject on a global stage.
The man is a hero, but as all heroes inevitably discover, even in a region enamoured by his actions there remain those unable to appreciate his courage and tenacity.
As news broke this morning that al-Zaidi has apologised that his “big ugly act cannot be excused,” inherent flaws appear.
Amidst other severe injuries, he is said to have suffered a broken arm after he was dragged away struggling and screaming by Iraqi security officers and US secret service agents.
At the moment he is in hospital in the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad.
It has been speculated that the court may send al-Zaidi for trial under a clause in the Iraqi penal code that makes it an offence to try to murder Iraqi or foreign presidents.
As a result, the sentence could be up to 15 years jail.
It’s prudent to remember at this point that al-Zaidi threw shoes not Molotov cocktails or hand grenades.
Death by shoes is relatively unheard of, but then, the President did almost die by pretzel, so it is not that surprising that the humble domestic shoe be considered a weapon of destruction.
As demos continue around the world, and more than a 1,000 lawyers clamber to represent the plucky journo, it is unfathomable that the Iraqi government – and those heinous individuals responsible for his maltreatment – can stand idle by, condemning him to such a dismal fate.
Al-Zaidi has not resorted to deathly means to convey his objections: he utilised that great, peaceful tool: humiliation and publicity.
If he should experience any physical contact in custody, it should be the shaking of a thousand hands and the slapping of double that number on his back.
[Image via: Israel Barros]