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article imageShoes and Rumors: Was Iraqi Journalist Beaten? Arab and US Papers Report Story

By Carol Forsloff     Dec 19, 2008 in World
The incident regarding the journalist who threw his shoes at Bush is a saga that continues. While some sympathize with Muntadhar al-Zeidi and have supported him, others worry that the incident indicates security issues need to be further explored.
There have been numerous twists and turns in this interesting shoe story. First, came the press conference where Al-Zeidi threw two shoes, not one. He was tackled and thrown to the ground afterwards. One of his brothers reported al-Zeidi was in good condition afterwards, while another brother has reported Al-Zeidi to have been beaten. Al-Zeidi has not been seen publicly since the incident, but his apologies were reported in the press.
If the Iraqi journalist was beaten by Iraqi authorities, those who consider him a hero will likely have a different reaction than those who believe he committed a serious offense. This might have an impact on relationships of various groups within the country. Likely there will be two points of view in the Arab world, as in the United States, as the newspapers of the world continue to write stories about this incident about shoes using somewhat different perspectives..
Judge Dhia al-Kinani, the Iraqi judge who is presently handling the incident and al-Zeidi’s case, said the court will be investigating the incident in depth and determining whether or not the shoe thrower was beaten. He was observed to have bruises on his face and around his eyes sometime following the incident.
The shoe incident has had legs for those shoes, with the numerous stories that have gone about it around the world. It is likely it will continue until some disposition of the case against al-Zeidi’s case is made for an incident that could cause him to spend many years in prison but that Bush said that was just a political statement that didn’t deserve harsh punishment. Al-Zeidi has been reported by Qassim Abdul-Zahra for the Associated Press on December 18,2008 to have apologized for his behavior. The same reporter covered the story of the alleged beating on Friday. But will that act of contrition and Bush’s statements have any bearing on the decision of the Iraqi courts?
The story about the possible beating of Al-Zeidi is carried as a fact in Asia News, an English newspaper that reports news on the African, Asian and Middle Eastern countries. It states: “The Iraqi journalist who was accused of throwing shoes at US President George W Bush has been beaten many times in the lock up.” This direct statement was the headline given by an Arab journalist for the Associated Press who treated the story of the shoe thrower and journalist, Al-Zeidi being beaten in prison, still as a question that remains open and to be decided by the judge. The journalist reporting it for Asia News states it as a fact and is less direct about the conclusion. One might wonder, given this varying tone and treatment of news, how the people of Iraq will feel given the concerns about the mistreatment of prisoners alleged to have occurred with others in Iraq and those with Abu Ghraib, a prison maintained by Americans, and how that might impact the citizenry’s opinion of its government and that of the United States.
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