Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 16:29 GMT

Iraqi journalist who threw shoes is detained

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Author Mohamed Abdel Dayem
Publication Date 16 December 2008
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Iraqi journalist who threw shoes is detained, 16 December 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/496b6e8dc.html [accessed 24 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

By Mohamed Abdel Dayem/Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator

During a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi called President George Bush a dog as he hurled his shoes at him. Though he missed his target, al-Zaidi was immediately tackled to the ground and restrained by plainclothes security personnel.

I was to start my new job at the Committee to Protect Journalists the next day and anticipated that the incident would generate tremendous media and public interest. And so it was: Overnight, the video was viewed on the Internet well over 2 million times and was shown on thousands of news channels across the world.

Although the incident is not a press freedom case, it raises concerns regarding al-Zaidi's treatment. Video footage from the press conference shows a number of men taking down the Al-Baghdadia journalist. As he was being restrained, one of the men ordered cameras to be turned off. And since al-Zaidi was taken into custody, there have been reports across the news media saying that he suffered a broken hand and other injuries, and that those injuries may or may not have been sustained in the scuffle.

However, this afternoon, The Associated Press quoted the journalist's brother, Maitham al-Zaidi, as saying that he had spoken with the reporter, who declared himself to be in "good health."

While al-Zaidi was not acting as a journalist when he threw his shoes at Bush, he is entitled due process and the full protection of the law. We are alarmed that the video feed was cut as al-Zaidi was being restrained. Al-Zaidi should be allowed access to a lawyer so all these allegations can be clarified.

December 16, 2008 2:53 PM ET

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