The best “good-bye” for Bush, isn’t it? [Archives:2008/1219/Community]

December 25 2008

By: Maged Thabet Al-Kholidy

While Bush is preparing to say good-bye to his position as the President of the United States of America, he has received a farewell not with roses and flowers, nor with congratulations and best wishes, but with shoes thrown at him during a live press conference. While this recent event is still fresh in memory, it will continue to be remembered in the history of the whole world. While some people, including many Americans, encourage the behavior of the Iraqi Journalist Muntathar Al-Zaidi, who assailed Bush with his shoes, there are those who consider it to be an uncivilized and unacceptable act for a media-person to carry out, especially when meeting a guest to their homeland.

It was during a press conference, at which Bush was congratulating the Iraqis on turning over the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, that the journalist became enraged and wondered why Bush was congratulating the Iraqis when the almost 4 million people had died since the start of the war. Al-Zaidi’s anger could not be contained, so he chose to express this by hurling his shoes at Bush. Both attempts to hit the President failed, as his target ducked out of the way, but the shoes did shake the American flag. This event immediately took a prominent position in the world media. From a cultural stance, Arabs and Muslims consider this to be a grave insult against the President of the United States in particular, and against America in general. As Mr. Abdulbari Atawan, the editor of Al-Quds newspaper says: “It is a good farewell for a bad person”.

Despite this interruption, the conference continued. Bush smiled and said: “It is democracy”. If such an expression of opinion is really encouraged under democracy, then why was the journalist beaten so fiercely as to break his arm and teeth? Why has he been imprisoned up until now? Since it is democracy, as Bush himself has said, why not accept the matter quietly? Some people, on the other hand, stand against what happened as a matter of principle.

Those who reject Al-Zaidi’s behavior in the press conference claim that Bush was a guest in Iraq, and argue that this is not the way Arabs and Muslims should treat guests. They also disapprove of the journalist’s behavior, especially given his presence at an official press conference which was broadcast live. These people believe that there are other more civilized and official ways to express opinion, and that Al-Zaidi’s behavior was un-called for. However, one can counter this position by drawing a comparison to Bush’s behavior on the international level.

According to those who support the first opinion, Bush was the instigator of war in Iraq. They argue that he fabricated information regarding many key issues, such as the existence of nuclear weapons, and the dictatorship of Saddam. These were his excuses to invade Iraq, claiming that he would bring democracy, peace, and justice for the Iraqi people. During his invasion he destroyed the infrastructure of Iraq, and shattered the unity of the nation, seizing its wealth. This was brought about by killing almost four million people, through the use of many different and uncivilized military tactics. As a result, the country is upside down; there is no peace, no democracy and no justice at all. So, should such a man be met with flowers and roses, or with shoes and rubbish? Some people no doubt say that Al-Zaidi’s behavior would be considered uncivilized if directed at any president not involved in the war against Iraq. It would even be uncivilized if directed at Bush himself, had the peace, democracy and justice that were promised been established in Iraq. However, what has happened says that Bush deserves nothing more than shoes in his face, as some enthusiastically proclaim.

These are the two most prominent viewpoints regarding what happened to Bush in Baghdad. The number of those who condone Al-Zaidi’s behavior is such that the shoes have become an historic symbol. Those who reject such behavior, however, strongly condemn what transpired, describing it as an uncivilized act regardless of any possible motivation.

In short, I would like to hear more opinions from you, dear readers, all over the world, so as to enrich the topic with more discussion in the hope that it will enlighten us and have a positive impact on the behaviors of us all.

Maged Thabet Al-Kholidy is a contributing opinions writer form Taiz. He holds a Masters Degree from the English department at Taiz University and is the former editor of Taiz University’s English-language magazine.