Seven years ago, on December 14, 2008, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at then U.S. President George W. Bush. al-Zaidi reportedly yelled “this is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog” and “this is for all the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq”.
In the Arab culture, the throwing of shoes is an act of extreme disrespect.
President Bush deftly dodged both shoes and al-Zaidi was quickly taken down by members of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s security detail.
Although President Bush laughed the incident off, it was quite the embarrassment for the United States Secret Service as President Bush’s agents were unable to stop a sole assailant.
As mentioned, al-Zaidi was taken into custody and was eventually charged with “assaulting a foreign head of state during an official visit”. al-Zaidi was sentenced to three years in prison, but that was later reduced to one year. After nine months in an Iraqi prison, al-Zaidi was released on September 15, 2009 for “good behavior”.
Ironically for al-Zaidi, he himself was hit with a shoe thrown by another Iraqi journalist during a press conference in Paris, all while he was discussing his attempted shoeing of President Bush.