Thousands rally in Iraq to support Bush shoe thrower

Park Sae-jin Reporter() | Posted : December 17, 2008, 09:15 | Updated : December 17, 2008, 09:15

Several Iraqi journalists hold placards and a newspaper fronted by an image of US President George W Bush ducking as a shoe is thrown at him (L) during a protest outside the Union of Iraqi Journalist headquarters in central Baghdad on December 16 2008.

Iraqis across the country hailed the journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi, who worked for Cairo-based Baghdadia television, and praised his act of throwing shoes at Bush as a heroic action.

In Iraq's northern city of Mosul, hundreds of protestors gathered outside the building of the city university carrying banners and chanted slogans, demanding release of the reporter anddescribing him as a national hero.

In Nassriyah city, the capital of Dhi Qar province in southern Iraq, dozens of people from local civil organizations of the Zaidiya tribe, where the reporter's family belongs, demonstrated in central city and also demanded the release of Zaidi.

Several more demonstrations have taken the streets in other cities of Salahudin, Hilla and Fallujah.

On Monday, thousands of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rallied in the Sadr City neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, where Zaidi's family live, burned American flags to protest against Bush and demanded the release of Zaidi.

Abdul Kareem Khalaf, head of operation office in the Interior Ministry, said that "an arrest warrant has been issued against Zaidi for committing a misdemeanor for throwing his shoes on President Bush and he has to get proper punishment."

"The shoe throwing was also an insult to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki himself," Khalaf said.

Also on Tuesday, the Union of Iraqi Lawyers announced in a statement obtained by Xinhua, that it supports Zaidi and it is preparing a group of lawyers for defending him if being prosecuted.

"Misdemeanor, according to the Iraqi law, could take sentences ranging from three months to three years in prison, but for Zaidi it could be easier than that because the court may consider Zaidi's act was expressing his rejection for the U.S. soldiers crimes toIraqis," Ali al-Dulaimi, a lawyer, told Xinhua.

Zaidi, 29, was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards on Sunday night after throwing his shoes on Bush and since then he was being held by Iraqi security forces for interrogation and he was also being tested for alcohol and drugs. Danilovich is on a two-day visit to Nicaragua.

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