It was an incident that lasted a mere 12 seconds. But as soon as bloggers the world over watched Muntadar Al Zeidi throw not one, but both his shoes, at US President George W Bush in a Press conference held in Iraq today, reactions – several in 140 characters or less in the Twittersphere – spread faster than you could say â€˜footwearâ€™ â€¦ twice.
You may have even thought you were watching an episode of Saturday Night Live before reality kicked in and that yes, you had just seen breaking news on TV. And that yes, Bush, at 62, still has catlike reflexes and managed to avoid both shoes. The conference was held in Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Malikiâ€™s office to mark the signing of a security agreement.
Several news reports explained that in Arab culture, throwing shoes is a grave show of disrespect. â€œThis is the farewell kiss, you dog,â€ Al Zeidi reportedly yelled at Bush in Arabic. In the Twittersphere, that sentiment may be shared by an even greater number â€“ with thousands of â€˜tweetsâ€™ expressing their desires to throw their very shoes â€“ and other inanimate objects â€“ at the outgoing 43rd US president.
David Hughes, from Glasgow, Scotland, said simply:
â€œIf I had a shoe, I would throw it at Bush too.â€
Rami Ismail, from the Netherlands, said:
“An Iraqi decided to throw a shoe at Bush during a conference. I can only imagine how sad fundamentalists are that the shoe wasn't a grenade.”
Several others commented on Bushâ€™s reflexes and his shrugging the incident off, including Australian Kyle Buttress, who said:
“Bush had some good ducking and weaving action there during the Shoe toss… Good to see he didn't turn his back or anything.”
Erik Rasmussen, in Spain, said:
“This video of Bush & the shoe was the lead story on the news in Spain. Very telling, really, of his “accomplishments”. Needed a bloody nose.”
The Blogosphere is sure to come up with more reactions with each passing hour, but Englishman Georgie Hammerton was one of the quick ones to blog about the incident on My Bloggy Wog.
â€œI know this isnâ€™t funny.. but, well it is isnâ€™t it?
â€œOn a side note; is this what passes for journalism in the US!? *shudder*. BBC, I salute you!â€
Malaysian blogger Shamsul Yunos noted how the media covered the incident.
â€œIf you watch CNN or BBC, they have put a fantastic spin on the story. It goes something like this: â€˜Sure the image of someone throwing a shoe at Bush is bad but the fact that the man lived to tell the tale shows just how free Iraq is right now.â€™
â€œThe BBC interviewed people on the ground and the few Iraqis they met agreed with the shoe thrower in wanting Bush and the Americans out of their country.
“Apparently the white house doesn't think the image will seriously damage Bush's legacy.
“So what exactly is his legacy? Leaving a lot of mess behind? I'm sure that legacy is only being reinforced by the shoe throwing incident.”
Yunos was one of the few bloggers I came across that noted that Al Zeidi, the now well known shoe-attacker, had covered events in Sadr City extensively.
â€œ(He) had lost several relatives in the conflict. He was also recently kidnapped and tortured in a three-day ordeal.â€
Chicago-based Indian blogger Saqib Salman Shafi in his blog SaqibSaab questioned what Al Zeidi was really trying to accomplish.
â€œNow, based on the fact that he was using shoes, one may ask what exactly was he trying to accomplish? Best case scenario, Bush gets a black eye or a scoffed up nose. But you know what, I feel the disgruntled journalist, along with millions across the globe, could care less at the effectiveness of his weapons of choice. It was the statement that spoke loudest. Upset with the leader of the super powerful nation of the world? Take off your jutha(shoe) and chuck it at him. I can see the internet jokes of â€œepic shoe maneuver,â€ already.
“And check out how quickly he launches the first one and then removes his other shoe (reloads) and fires away. Maybe he had them untied and ready for deployment? Or rather, perhaps he wore slip-ons or loafers that day.”
Egyptian blogger, Zeinobia, was quite sorry Al Zeidi missed Bushâ€™s head.
“This is the news of the day , sorry the news of the week or may be even the month and the end of the year.
“Bush was having a press conference today in his surprise visit to Baghdad with Al Maliki when Muntader Al-Zeidi , a reporter threw his shoes at him. Unfortunately he missed him :(“
She continued to blog about Al Zeidi, being a correspondent for Al Baghdadia Television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt, Zeinobia said she feared for his life.
“He has entered the history, already I wish that someone tells his news now in Baghdad because I fear on his life.
“Idiot Bush of course tried made fun from the incident and said these words : All I can report is a size 10.”
And in the Philippines, someone was up late enough – or way too early – to blog about it almost immediately as it broke. Dreamer4U asked why there was so much hatred in the hearts of Iraqis for Americans and other Westerners.
“It is for sure I thought an embarrassing time for America and Iraq, now I knew how mad is the Iraqi to the American, if you know why let me know here.
“Anyway the shoes of the Iraqi reporter is size 10, Bush should be glad it didn't hit him or else he would be injured before going home in the states. Now I know “W” is good on something, he could have been a good military guy, sadly he was a very ineffective President though.
“Why is it that there are hatred in the heart of the Islam/Iraqi for the American or western people?”
Bush arrived today in Baghdad on a surprise visit — his last to Iraq as commander-in-chief — to celebrate the agreement, thank U.S. troops and meet with Iraqi leaders.
It was Bushâ€™s fourth visit to a nation transformed by the U.S.-led war he started in 2003. It follows three weeks after Iraqâ€™s parliament approved an accord with the U.S. that provides for the withdrawal of American troops by the end of 2011.