The shoe missed his face

About half of Arab world is gleefully lapping up the video. Even the Talibans, who are against any form of pictorial representation, would be downloading and watching it with relish. Some oil-rich millionaires from Saudi even offered to buy the shoes at astounding prices. Hundreds of Iraqis rallied to demand the release of the journalist, now famed as the ‘Shoe Thrower.’ Many media houses ‘demanded’ clemency to the journalist, now in the custody of the Iraqi police.

Muntadar Al Zaidi, the journalist who threw the shoes at President Bush, has said that he did it for the Iraqi widows and orphans. Thousands were butchered during Saddam’s iron rule and thereby many women became widows. His last five years of regime saw the death of half-million children due to lack of life-saving medicines. What if a journalist had thrown his shoes at this obdurate dictator? Why hadn’t anybody ventured to do so? Mohd Ali Jinnah’s regime caused historic oppression in Pakistan and no one bothered to demonstrate the footwear protest. Mullah Omar of Taliban never believed in press conferences but even if he did, every journalist would know better than to behave for they would know the consequences of showing the bottom of their boots.

The journalist who chose Bush to demonstrate this would certainly know this. Ironically his obscene protest has become possible because of Bush for he could not have enjoyed this fame under the previous regime and furthermore lived to tell the tale. He should know that he had not insulted the president but has demonstrated the freedom of expression made possible in the Arab main lands.

The war is Iraq is now being sustained not by the American forces but by the Jihadi fringe grounds determined to weaken the country to demonstrate that the war had been lost. Little they realise that if America lost the war, it would be, unfortunately, Iraqi people’s defeat.

In the early 90s, the entire Arabia cheered at the US for containing Saddam Hussain and today they criticise them for doing the same, albeit a decade later. Overthrowing Taliban and Saddam were the most significant achievements of George Bush, which the world will recognise in the years to come. Sadly that will not happen until another dictator overtakes Iraq or Afghanistan, sponsor terror attacks brazenly, and the future president remains reluctant to launch another full-scale attack. If the Arab world misunderstands this and celebrates the Shoe Thrower, then it will be their failure. Had they condemned this juvenile act, it would have demonstrated their maturity but what is happening today is not helping to reinforce such faith. If my son hurls an expletive at my neighbour and I chortle in encouragement, actually it is I who is getting insulted. A society’s characteristics are measured not just by their actions but by their responses to others’ actions as well. In this episode, the shoe might have missed Bush’s face, but it actually caught the face of the Arab society.