Reporter throws shoes at US president

Monday 15 December 2008 11.46
George W Bush - Farewell visit to Iraq
George W Bush - Farewell visit to Iraq

An Iraqi reporter has called US President George W Bush a ‘dog’ and thrown his shoes at him, sullying the US leader's farewell visit to Baghdad.

Just weeks before he bequeaths the unpopular Iraq war to President-elect Barack Obama, Mr Bush sought to underline improved security by landing in daylight and venturing out beyond the city's heavily fortified international Green Zone.

He declared the war 'not over' despite recent gains.

In a sign of lingering anger over the war that will define the Republican president's foreign policy legacy, an Iraqi journalist shouted in Arabic 'this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog,' and hurled his shoes at Bush during a news conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Throwing shoes at somebody is an insult in the Middle East.

One of the shoes sailed over the president's head and slammed into the wall behind him and he had to duck to miss the other one. Mr Maliki tried to block the second shoe with his arm.

‘It's like going to a political rally and have people yell at you. It's a way for people to draw attention,’ Mr Bush said.

‘I don't know what the guy's cause was. I didn't feel the least bit threatened by it.’

The journalist was leapt on by Iraqi security officials and US secret service agents and dragged from the room.

Mr Bush's fleeting visit to Baghdad was aimed at marking the recent passage of a US-Iraq security pact that paves the way for US troops to pull out of Iraqi cities by July next year and withdraw completely by the end of 2011.

It was also meant to hail a recent sharp fall in the sectarian violence and insurgency that raged after the 2003 US invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, and to show support for Iraqi police and soldiers as they take on increasing responsibility.