Muntadhar al-Zaidi famously threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in December 2008, kicking off a stream of shoe-throwing protests around Iraq and the world. He then spent nine months in jail. TheRealNews.com has now posted a four-part video interview in which al-Zaidi reveals, to the certain bewilderment of many Americans, that he has absolutely no notion of "hating us for our freedoms." In fact, al-Zaidi lists completely unrelated grievances not unlike those listed by every other individual ever alleged to have hated us for out freedoms. It's enough to make you almost suspect there was a pattern, if you didn't know better.
Al-Zaidi says in Part 1 of the interview, in which he also lists his grievances with the United States, that he expected and was prepared to be killed immediately for throwing his shoes at Bush's head. He left behind a videotaped statement and a will, he says. Al-Zaidi had been working as a broadcast journalist for Al-Baghdadia TV, and writing about the U.S. occupation of Iraq. He says that he did not believe the world was reading his writings, and that throwing his shoes at Bush was a means of grabbing people's attention. It certainly worked, at least temporarily.
In Part 2 of the video, al-Zaidi describes the kind of stories he had been reporting on, including many American war crimes. He describes an incident he reported on in which Americans raped and murdered and then tried to make their crime appear to be sectarian and Iraqi. Al-Zaidi preaches vengeance and explains his duty to pay Bush back for the mass-murder of his countrymen and women. That Americans' similar habit of thinking in terms of revenge, albeit for fictional wrongs, was what allowed Bush to begin the war and continue it may not have occurred to al-Zaidi, and it hardly seems our place to tell Iraqis about the evils of revenge in their legal resistance while our nation uses a combination of revenge and lies to launch illegal wars. Nonetheless, al-Zaidi is on the wrong path here.
Al-Zaidi says that when he threw his shoes, he was beaten and tortured by Iraqis working with Americans for a few days until his brother spoke out publicly against this abuse. Al-Zaidi was then held in solitary confinement for three months, which he describes as worse than the physical torture. Al-Zaidi remained in jail for six more months following a trial (of him, of course, not of Bush). The Iraqi media did not, for the most part, cover his torturing, al-Zaidi says in Part 3, because the media in Iraq is largely controlled by the United States and its collaborators.
Asked his opinion on President Obama and whether he would throw shoes at him too, al-Zaidi says the change in president means nothing, that the important thing is withdrawal. Iraqis may lose patience if the withdrawal is delayed, al-Zaidi warns.
Asked whether Iraq will be worse off if the United States leaves, al-Zaidi replies that those destabilizing Iraq are the United States and its allies, and that Iraq has already seen massive sectarian violence even during the occupation. The level of hatred and violence between Sunnis and Shias one hears about in the media, however, is not real, al-Zaidi says, comparing it to the pre-war lies about "weapons of mass destruction."
In Part 4, al-Zaidi says he's seen no evidence that the United States will withdraw from Iraq. He thinks the stage is being set to create a pretext for extending the occupation. This, al-Zaidi says, is in the interest of politicians who are working with and depending on the United States. But the primary demand from the Iraqi people, al-Zaidi makes clear, is that all US troops and mercenaries leave immediately.
Here is the video.