Iraqi shoe-thrower sentenced to three years in jail
March 12, 2009 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Iraqi shoe-thrower sentenced to three years in jail. Can an internet campaign for his release be far behind?
posted by Silky Slim (67 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
This sorta makes me want to fly to Dallas with several suitcases full of old shoes and just, ya know, hang out somewhere and wait for an opportunity or two. . . .
posted by Danf at 7:36 AM on March 12, 2009


If Bush had wanted to gain back a huge amount of respect and salvage a damaged legacy all he had to do was publicly ask for leniency for this guy. Someone on meta said Bush should have asked for a personal pardon for the shoe thrower. I agree.

I hope this bites Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki on the ass come next election. Or hope Iraqi al-Maliki can commute the sentence to time served.

Regardless of which side you are on when it comes to politics I don't believe anyone can call 3 years for something like this just.

For the record I am not a Bush supporter, and I didn't agree with Muntazer al-Zaidi's actions. I don't have much respect for Bush, but I do respect the Office he held. Throwing shoes at him disrespected the the Office of the Presidency and the American people.

I am fine with someone not respecting this country (or its elected officials), but to enter into delicate international politics in this manner when you are supposed to be an unbiased journalist is asinine.

This said, al-Zaidi should have lost his job, been fined, and sent home.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:41 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll sign that petition.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:43 AM on March 12, 2009


Three years? Wow, way to create a martyr people.


He was dressed in a faded beige suit and though noticeably thinner than in his first court appearance he appeared fit and well.


Is this some kind of code? Normally if a celebrity is said to be 'noticeably thinner' somebody's suggesting they have anorexia or some awful incurable illness. Are they hinting at something else though?
posted by Sova at 7:45 AM on March 12, 2009


Can an internet campaign for his release be far behind?

Yes, yes! The Iraqi prison system is highly vulnerable to pressure from US bloggers! Please, people, wield your tremendous influence wisely.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:48 AM on March 12, 2009 [7 favorites]


Agreed. When this was the lead story on NPR this morning without getting much lead coverage in my other news sources, I thought it was strange. Then I worried that this might be one of those stories that gets bigger because of its consequences.

This is the perfect opportunity to teach a lesson on freedom of speech/expression to a part of the world we're supposedly trying to spread our values too. Unfortunately, it's now an example of spreading our values -- just the worst ones.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:49 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


If he ever gets released, there's a hell of a career as a Florsheim spokesperson waiting for him here in the USA.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:50 AM on March 12, 2009


Turning the other cheek is so un-American.
posted by Spatch at 7:52 AM on March 12, 2009


Can an internet campaign for his release be far behind?

Yes, yes! The Iraqi prison system is highly vulnerable to pressure from US bloggers!


I see where you're coming from with your sarcasm, stupidsexyFlanders, but assuming an internet campaign for his release would be limited to "US bloggers" is, well, pretty US-centric of you. I reckon there'd be enormous worldwide support for such a campaign.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:53 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


cjorgensen: "If Bush had wanted to gain back a huge amount of respect and salvage a damaged legacy all he had to do was publicly ask for leniency for this guy."

This guy?

In the weeks before the execution, Bush says, "A number of protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Karla Faye Tucker." "Did you meet with any of them?" I ask. Bush whips around and stares at me. "No, I didn't meet with any of them", he snaps, as though I've just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. "I didn't meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with Tucker, though. He asked her real difficult questions like, 'What would you say to Governor Bush?'" "What was her answer?" I wonder. "'Please,'" Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, "'don't kill me.'" I must have looked shocked — ridiculing the pleas of a condemned prisoner who has since been executed seems odd and cruel — because he immediately stops smirking.
- Wikipedia
posted by Joe Beese at 7:56 AM on March 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


If Bush had wanted to gain back a huge amount of respect and salvage a damaged legacy all he had to do was publicly ask for leniency for this guy. Someone on meta said Bush should have asked for a personal pardon for the shoe thrower. I agree.

Bush doesn't give a fuck.

Yes, yes! The Iraqi prison system is highly vulnerable to pressure from US bloggers! Please, people, wield your tremendous influence wisely.

And as we know, only Americans use the internet. Certainly not those stupid Iraqis who probably don't even know how to use computers!
posted by delmoi at 8:01 AM on March 12, 2009


A poll released today, commissioned by ABC News and the BBC, suggests 62% of Iraqis regard the shoe-thrower as a hero. Twenty-four percent of respondents saw him as a criminal who had assaulted a visiting head of state.

This is the crux of it right here. Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of al-Zaidi and admire his courage, but he did technically violate the law...while that's not exactly earth-shattering in Iraq right now, he did so extremely publicly, and put the Iraqi government in a tough position. They're having a hard enough time asserting authority, so should they have flaunted the law just because this guy's popular? I completely agree that Bush should have asked for a pardon on his behalf (considering the guy's story, I think we can all sympathize with his actions), but "assaulting a visiting head of state" is exactly what he did.

This is the perfect opportunity to teach a lesson on freedom of speech/expression to a part of the world we're supposedly trying to spread our values too. Unfortunately, it's now an example of spreading our values -- just the worst ones.

I don't know about this. What do you suggest, that they let him off without punishment? I think upholding the letter of the law, despite it being unpopular, is an example of spreading positive democratic values-- this time the case is throwing shoes, but what if some Iraqi gets famous for blowing up an unpopular foreign dignitary? Should they let him off because a majority of Iraqis consider him a hero? In either case, violence is being used to make a political statement, which is the definition of terrorism...certainly something the Iraqi government shouldn't be encouraging.
posted by baphomet at 8:02 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dude, he threw shoes. And missed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:13 AM on March 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't think an Internet campaign will work: the Iraqi Prime Minister has already made clear that his decision is final by declaring that there will be no flip flops.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:14 AM on March 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Dude, he threw shoes. And missed.

So you're asserting that this was not an act of violence? Believe me, I thought it was awesome at the time and still do, but that doesn't change the fact that he tried to assault someone.
posted by baphomet at 8:21 AM on March 12, 2009


assuming an internet campaign for his release would be limited to "US bloggers"

Good catch, I didn't need the "U.S." to make the point.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:22 AM on March 12, 2009


Blazecock Pileon: "Dude, he threw shoes. And missed."

In fairness, Bush has had a lot of practice in ducking things.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:26 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


So you're asserting that this was not an act of violence?

Not in the same sense as knifing or shooting someone, no, it is not an act of violence or assault on that level. Perhaps I'm suggesting that the punishment should fit the crime. Three years in an Iraqi prison for the near-equivalent of smacking someone's hand seems more like retribution than rehabilitation, to me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:27 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree with you on that point, 3 years is overkill.
posted by baphomet at 8:30 AM on March 12, 2009


Dude, he threw shoes.

maybe it was a shoe that looked like this
posted by andywolf at 8:31 AM on March 12, 2009


Out of curiosity, anyone know what his sentence would be here?

I don't know what 'attempted assault of a world leader' qualifies as..
posted by graventy at 8:36 AM on March 12, 2009


Maybe Obama should be asking for leniency, as he is now the POTUS and not Bush.
That said, the Prime Minister of Iraq was also at the podium that day and one has to imagine that he lost a bit of face with the incident.
I would have sentenced him to 3 years of no foot wear. Socks only.
posted by a3matrix at 8:37 AM on March 12, 2009


Well Iraq certainly isn't as democratic as Bush had wanted it is it?
posted by Rashomon at 8:39 AM on March 12, 2009


So you can get away with invading a country on claims of elusive WMDs, then some guys chucks a shoe at you and he gets three years in prison. When the aliens land on Earth to learn about us, I'm going to let someone else field this one.
posted by Elmore at 8:43 AM on March 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just started a Facebook group :)
posted by mike3k at 8:48 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just to be clear with baphomet (and others) I'm not saying that he shouldn't be punished. But I don't see throwing shoes as an act of violence on the same level as attempted assasination, and no honest person would either. But I think timed served six months would more than fit the crime.

Intent is important here, certainly as important as considering who the target was -- which is obviously being done in the situation. Knowing what we know about what throwing shoes means, this is obviously a political statement, and surely we want to encourage the types made with flying footwear rather than flying shrapnel, particularly in this region, yes?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:49 AM on March 12, 2009


this is obviously a political statement, and surely we want to encourage the types made with flying footwear rather than flying shrapnel, particularly in this region, yes?

Shoe thrown at Ahmadinejad.

So it does seem to be catching on.
posted by delmoi at 9:01 AM on March 12, 2009


Out of curiosity, anyone know what his sentence would be here?

18 U.S.C. § 1751
§ 1751. Presidential and Presidential staff assassination, kidnapping, and assault; penalties
***
(e) Whoever assaults any person designated in subsection (a)(1) [President, Vice-President, President-Elect, Vice-President-Elect] shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
18 U.S.C. § 112:
§ 112. Protection of foreign officials, official guests, and internationally protected persons
(a) Whoever assaults, strikes, wounds, imprisons, or offers violence to a foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person or makes any other violent attack upon the person or liberty of such person, or, if likely to endanger his person or liberty, makes a violent attack upon his official premises, private accommodation, or means of transport or attempts to commit any of the foregoing shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both. Whoever in the commission of any such act uses a deadly or dangerous weapon, or inflicts bodily injury, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:01 AM on March 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


I caught this story on the radio waking up today. The best part?

"Al-Zaidi's defense claimed he was provoked by Bush's smiling face."

Talk about a familiar feeling. I risk severe hypocrisy if I condemn this man.
posted by EatTheWeak at 9:03 AM on March 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


I'm not saying that he shouldn't be punished.

I agree, but if the precedent is three years for show-throwing, then how many is it for waterboarding?
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:03 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


If an American journalist threw shoes at a visiting head of state, what should the penalty be?

I despise Bush and his horrible 8 year reign of devastation, but throwing things at leaders isn't a great idea. The clip is funny, and I thoroughly enjoyed the storm it created. I hope the guy wasn't tortured, and I hope he gets some leniency, but it shouldn't be encouraged.
posted by theora55 at 9:06 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm going to let someone else field this one.
posted by Elmore at 10:43 AM on March 12


I'll handle it. It's actually pretty straightforward from a legal perspective.

Under the laws of Nations and laws of Conquest, Nation A militarily engages in regime change in Nation B. Under such laws, Nation B has no jurisdiction or sovereign legal right to try Nation A, its leaders, or its citizens. Nation A has no legal basis to try its leaders because Nation A authorized the leaders to act. Ergo, no criminal charges exist.

Person X violates his own country Y's laws, and Country Y punishes Person X in accordance to laws applying to those that Country Y has jurisdiction over. So criminal charges exist.
posted by dios at 9:09 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Couldn't they just castrate him and move him to an enclosure where it will be harder to stockpile shoes?
posted by Mister_A at 9:12 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


So you can get away with invading a country on claims of elusive WMDs, then some guys chucks a shoe at you and he gets three years in prison. When the aliens land on Earth to learn about us, I'm going to let someone else field this one.

It will be interesting to see if the aliens are familiar too with the concept of one set of laws for the rulers and one for the commoners. It's been such a hallmark of civilization on Earth that I think alien cultures would cluck a little bit and nod their head knowingly after hearing what our rulers do.
posted by crapmatic at 9:14 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It will be interesting to see if the aliens are familiar too with the concept of one set of laws for the rulers and one for the commoners.

It's actually one set of laws for states acting as states and one set for citizens of states. I know that sounds less like class-warfare than you were aiming for, but it is probably more accurate.
posted by dios at 9:18 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd suggest that he be fined and do community service, but then I'd gladly pay money and do volunteer work for the privilege of throwing shoes at Bush. And a long lineup would form behind me.
posted by orange swan at 9:19 AM on March 12, 2009


Do you think that the Iraqi government would be taken seriously if it allowed people to assault foreign dignitaries, even extremely unpopular ones, with impunity? Three years seems just about right to tell you the truth. The best thing the government can do is to ensure that this man is not brutalized in prison, to avoid martyring him.
posted by Mister_A at 9:20 AM on March 12, 2009


It's weird that people are talking about "us" sentencing him like it's the US government.

Sure, Iraq has is a semi-puppet government that exists because of, and is propped up by, the US military, but it is their government and I doubt any American had anything to do with this at all. And this really seems pretty tame compared to the kind of sentences handed out elsewhere on the Arabian peninsula.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:23 AM on March 12, 2009


If he ever gets released...

He will be greeted as a liberator, and women and children will throw candy and flowers at his feet for the rest of his life.

Seriously. Assuming the authorities let him back into the world again, there is no way he is anything less than a hero to a generation.
posted by rokusan at 9:29 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do you think that the Iraqi government would be taken seriously if it allowed people to assault foreign dignitaries, even extremely unpopular ones, with impunity?

Perhaps a better question is why the shoes were thrown in the first place, if the Iraqi government was to be taken seriously. Except in the minds of demented conservatives, I think any clear-thinking adult understands that Iraq's government is not much different from the leadership of any Soviet puppet state in the Cold War.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:32 AM on March 12, 2009


Since he did technically assault Mr. Bush I can go along with the conviction, but it seems like a suspended sentence or being sentenced to time served would be more appropriate to the offense.

It's actually one set of laws for states acting as states and one set for citizens of states. I know that sounds less like class-warfare than you were aiming for, but it is probably more accurate.
So, for example, when Noelle Bush got 10 days in jail for contempt for being arrested with two grams of crack when she was in rehab for forging a prescription (and it's her second crime committed in rehab), it's the same punishment as the commoners get.

posted by kirkaracha at 9:37 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not to worry. There a Facebook Group. He's as good as released.
posted by ElmerFishpaw at 9:43 AM on March 12, 2009


3 years is nothing. Try lobbing some stones at an Israeli tank and see what happens to ya.
posted by gman at 9:52 AM on March 12, 2009


Throwing shoes at him disrespected the the Office of the Presidency and the American people.

No, it disrespected the officeholder that caused the deaths of thousands and thousands of Iraqi citizens. And, frankly, Bush, through his extra-legal actions over his eight years in office, has shown more contempt for the office of the Presidency and for the American people than al-Zaidi ever did.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:58 AM on March 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Three years seems just about right to tell you the truth"

At some level, justice is always politics. This is bad politics. Whether it is bad justice or not depends on whether you think politicians have an inalienable right to respect and whether you think lobbing a shoe qualifies for the same charges of assault as more dangerous acts of violence.

Here in Europe, particularly, we don't accord our political leaders the kind of unqualified respect that is more common in the US. But then in some cases we have queens and kings to take some of that space.

And in anyone's book, 3 years - 1095 days in a hot, smelly Baghdad concrete prison - for throwing a shoe that missed its target seems awfully stiff for an assault charge. Perhaps there is a touch of pour encourager les autres.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:04 AM on March 12, 2009


Three years in prison for assaulting a head of state just isn't that stiff a sentence, folks. You may not like Bush, you may not like al-Maliki, but this really isn't that bad. This is a case of the Iraqi judiciary acting like an independent and impartial arbiter, more or less; although it's certainly debatable whether they are such a thing.

Acquittal and release of al-Zaidi is not a reasonable expectation for any clear-thinking adult. It is frustrating, to be sure, but al-Zaidi broke the law of his land in a spectacularly public way, and this is the consequence. The Iraqi judiciary is doing what it's supposed to do; it has no power over Bush, but it has a responsibility to enforce the laws of Iraq. It would set a terrible precedent if the judge released al-Zaidi because he is sympathetic to him politically.
posted by Mister_A at 10:10 AM on March 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


There seems to be some confusion about why this guy is being charged. It has nothing to do with Bush, your opinion of him, or his actions. It has nothing to do with dignity and showing respect. The guy was free to disrespect Bush all has wants. He could have held up a big poster saying whatever disrespectful and nasty things that some of you in this thread want to say about Bush. He would have been fine.

He attempted to assault a foreign head of state. That is all there is to it.

I really dislike Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I can go to NY on one of this visits and say whatever I want to about the man with no consequence. If I throw something at him in an attempt to make physical contact with him, I go to jail. That's all there is to it.

Under the law of Nations, jus gentium, a state has an obligation to protect foreign heads of state who are in a country for diplomatic purposes. That is why states have laws criminalizing assault of foreign leaders.

"Cosmic justice" is irrelevant to actual justice.
posted by dios at 10:14 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


"If Bush had wanted to gain back a huge amount of respect and salvage a damaged legacy all he had to do was publicly ask for leniency for this guy. Someone on meta said Bush should have asked for a personal pardon for the shoe thrower. I agree."


I agree as well. It would have been the -ahem- Christian thing to do.

All kidding aside, I had the same instinct as soon as I heard that this had happened. I figured Bush would never do it, because it seems to me that Bush is the petty, vindictive, passive-aggressive type who would secretly relish the thought of horrible things happening to this guy for embarrassing him in public.
posted by Xoebe at 10:14 AM on March 12, 2009


If only he'd thrown flowers.
posted by bardic at 10:25 AM on March 12, 2009


Well you could look at it that way, Xoebe, and I do not mean to suggest that your view is necessarily incorrect, but there are alternate explanations. It is possible that it was deemed, by Bush or his advisors, unwise to publicly opine on Iraqi legal proceedings. I don't know that this is the case, either, but it is an alternate explanation.
posted by Mister_A at 10:25 AM on March 12, 2009


§

Handy information. Does anybody know the sentences for sex-tourist talk-radio hosts and former vice-presidential candidates?
posted by troybob at 10:30 AM on March 12, 2009


It is similar to the penalty for beating a dead horse.
posted by Mister_A at 10:33 AM on March 12, 2009


If only.
posted by troybob at 10:35 AM on March 12, 2009


He attempted to assault a foreign head of state. That is all there is to it.

You know who else was a foreign head of state, who likewise merited forgivable assault?
posted by humannaire at 11:13 AM on March 12, 2009


I would have liked to see the out come of him throwing a shoe at Saddam or one of his sons...
posted by a3matrix at 11:23 AM on March 12, 2009


3 years is nothing. Try lobbing some stones at an Israeli tank and see what happens to ya.

You'll get 900 million dollars in foreign aid from the US alone, and billions more from other sources, only to have that money stolen and used for weapons by the terrorist thugs you elected?
posted by Krrrlson at 11:35 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


See, that kinda sucks too, eh, Krrrlson?
posted by Mister_A at 11:44 AM on March 12, 2009


Its assault on the head of a friggin state. Three years sounds good, especially considering a stronger charge mentioned in an article I read this morning had a 5 to 15(!) year sentence. Dont let the Bush hate make you crazy.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:50 AM on March 12, 2009


You'll get 900 million dollars in foreign aid from the US alone, and billions more from other sources

Wow, Palestinian kids are getting at least 900 million US dollars each for throwing rocks at tanks??! That's fucking sweet! I should get in on some of that action before the US runs out of money to hand out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:53 AM on March 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I see where you're coming from with your sarcasm, stupidsexyFlanders, but assuming an internet campaign for his release would be limited to "US bloggers" is . . .

A good point, but it assumes that bloggers from any nation wield enormous influence over the Iraqi prison system. I'm guessing this is not the case.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:32 PM on March 12, 2009


Actually, no, IvoShanor, it didn't assume that any bloggers from any nation wield enormous influence over the Iraqi prison system. That's why I prefaced the comment with "I see where you're coming from with your sarcasm". You see? So I'm right in there with you on your assumption. My point was simply to call attention to the US-centric nature of the comment, which ssF acknowledged upthread.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:57 PM on March 12, 2009


Apparently, the people of Tikrit like Muntazer al-Zaidi so well that they erected a monument in his honor.

A giant bronze shoe.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:32 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The shoe-thrower should be punished by banning him to Canada.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:59 PM on March 12, 2009


Don't you mean "banishing", fff?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:19 PM on March 12, 2009


Yes, but you knew that.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 PM on March 12, 2009


Yes, I knew that. So I thought I'd spread the knowledge. ;-)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:22 PM on March 12, 2009


Touché. :)
posted by five fresh fish at 4:24 PM on March 13, 2009


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