I don't like to say "I told you so", President Bush, but three weeks ago I blogged about how thousands of Iraqis gathered in Firdous Square, where Saddam Hussein's statue once stood and pelted your effigy with thousands of shoes, then set it afire. This is what I wrote then:
"The president must have missed the sight of tens of thousands of Iraqis who on Friday gathered in Firdous Square where Saddam Hussein's statue once stood and chanted, "No, no, no to the occupiers!" He must have missed them dragging and pummeling his effigy with their shoes -- a gesture of contempt in the Arab world -- then jumping hysterically on it as they stamped out flames that had erupted after someone set it afire. "
Yet, you had to go and find out for yourself. President Bush, you are not only unpopular in The United States, but in many other countries as well. So how do you expect to be received in Iraq of all places? Like Charles de Gaulle marching down the Champs Elysées after France was liberated by the allies?
But I like to give credit where credit is due. The reporter who lost control of his emotions and tossed a shoe at you would have been shot on the spot had he done that to a guest of Saddam Hussein. Instead he gets to live to tell his story and be a hero to millions around the Middle East.
Update: I've been watching several Arab satellite channels reporting on the "shoe story" as described by many reporters in the Middle East. According to Al Jazeera more than 100 lawyers have offered to defend the shoe-throwing reporter Muntazir al-Zaydi... pro-bono! One attorney said that since the shoe did not hit Mr. Bush, al-Zaydi was merely exercising his freedom of speech and expression.
Iraqi reaction plus footage of al-Zaydi at work:
Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV