An Iraqi man threw shoes at the former US diplomat Paul Bremer who served as civil governor of Iraq following the 2003 US invasion of the country. The incident happened Wednesday at a meeting in the British Parliament.
The attack recalls the incident in which a man hurled a shoe at George W. Bush when he visited Baghdad as president in 2008.
According to NBC News, the former US envoy to Iraq gave a speech on Wednesday at a meeting organized by the Henry Jackson Society, a British-based think-tank named after a late US Senator from Washington state.
NBC News explains that shoe hurling is a gesture of contempt in Arab culture as shoes are always in contact with dirt and dust on the ground.
According to the Daily Mail, Bremer had just finished delivering a speech in which he spoke about defending "freedom and democracy." Al-Arabiya reports he was taking questions from the audience when a man identified as Yasser al-Samarani, who said he grew up in Iraq but relocated to the UK in 2005 "after the USA destroyed my country" rose to his feet.
The man announced that he had two messages to deliver, one from Saddam Hussein and the other from the Iraqi people.
Man hurls shoe at former US diplomat Paul Bremer
He said: "This is the first message," and hurled a shoe at Bremer. The video shows Bremer ducking, after which he laughed, his face registering amazement at the unexpected assault. A second shoe came flying which Bremer tried to catch, but missed. Security guards then held the man, handcuffed him and marched him out of the room.
As he was being led out, he shouted insults: "You f***** up my country, you destroyed the country. F*** you and f*** your democracy." Another man can be heard speaking in an American accent, "Get out of here, dude."
Bremer responded, saying: "You should improve your aim if you want to do something like that." Then, having regained his composure, he addressed the crowd, saying: "If he had done that while Saddam Hussein was alive, he would be a dead man by now."
According to the Daily Mail, the Tory MP Henry Smith, who chaired the meeting apologized to Bremer. He answered: "It’s OK – I tell you something, it has happened before."
The audience, having recovered from the initial shock, can be heard laughing when Bremer said: "No hard objects! Throw questions."
Bremer later signed on one of the size 8 shoes, the Daily Mail reports. He also commented: "The incident shows how lucky the man is to live in a country like the UK where free speech is respected. Many British and American soldiers gave their lives to bring this same right to Iraqis in Iraq."
Al-Arabiya reports the man Yasser al-Samarani, was later released on condition that he would not attend any future meetings at the House of Commons.
Bremer served as the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq, from May 2003 to June 2004.