AN Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at US President George W Bush in Baghdad last month is to seek political asylum in Switzerland, a Geneva lawyer told the daily La Tribune de Geneve today.
Muntazer al-Zaidi gained instant international fame when he threw his shoes at Bush during the US president’s farewell visit to Iraq on December 14, an action considered a grave insult in the Arab world.
“At the beginning of the month his family contacted me via the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and I shall write this week to the federal department (ministry) of foreign affairs to encourage Switzerland to grant him political asylum,” lawyer Mauro Poggia told the paper.
Switzerland could give him asylum “without taking a position for or against the American intervention in Iraq,” he said.
Zaidi, a 29-year-old journalist for the Al-Baghdadia television channel, had been due to appear before Iraq’s Central Criminal Court on December 31 on charges of “aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit” and he faced up to 15 years in jail if convicted.
But the court decided to postpone the trial pending an appeal to a higher tribunal.
Even if many Iraqis supported his action, Zaidi was “at the mercy of all manner of extremists,” the lawyer said, adding: “He can no longer work as a journalist without suffering terrible pressure… his life can become hell in his country.”
I hear he has also filed for asylum in Hollywood. Third choice: the NYTimes newsroom.
Reader Thomas is puzzled: “I don’t understand this article -i thought that the grateful Muslim masses paved the journo’s path with rose petals whereever he went and that none saw his actions as embarassingly childish and hysterically demented, reflecting poorly on the region in general. Does this prove that the threat of the use of the Sword is mightier than the actual use of the Shoe? One Shoe To Rule Them All And In The Darkness Bind Them.”
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