Punishing Iraq's shoe thrower
Is three years in prison just punishment for the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush?

It looks as if George W. Bush gets the last laugh on Muntadhar al-Zaidi, said Boston Herald columnist Jules Crittenden in his blog. An Iraqi court has sentenced al-Zaidi to three years in prison for throwing his shoes at Bush during a farewell news conference in Baghdad last year. Good—this is just "more evidence of stability and progress in Iraq," where acts of violence are prosecuted without "political excuse-making."

Al-Zaidi may have lost this round in court, said Jon Cohen in The Washington Post, but he's a winner in the eyes of his people. In a new ABC-BBC-NHK poll, 62 percent of Iraqis said al-Zaidi is a hero for echoing their criticism of Bush and the deaths of Iraqi civilians. Only 24 percent of those polled said al-Zaidi was a criminal for attacking a visiting head of state.

Nobody's really right in this case, said Salam Pax in Britain's The Guardian. Three years is too harsh a sentence for al-Zaidi's offense. As an Iraqi citizen, al-Zaidi "expressed eloquently with that shoe what many of us felt about Bush and his war," but he acted while wearing a reporter's hat, which did serious damage to the cause of independent journalism in a country that sorely needs it.



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