Iraqi shoe thrower has a profitable future
byDec 17th 2008 9:00AM
Muntader al-Zaidi's career as a journalist may be over, but there are plenty of other business opportunities for the Iraqi who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush.
The New York Times reported that a Saudi Arabian newspaper had a story that a man offered $10 million for one of the shoes.
In case you haven't heard what happened Sunday night, here are the basics: Al-Zaidi, 29, is a journalist for Al Baghdadia, an Iraqi TV station. As Bush spoke at a press conference, Al-Zaidi rose from about 12 feet away and threw a shoe at the president's head while shouting in Arabic, "This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!" Bush dodged the shoe, and the other one Al-Zaidi threw at him, this time screaming at the president, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!"
He was subdued, beaten and hauled away and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of an aggressive act against a head of a foreign state on an official visit. It's expected to be decided today whether he will go to trial.
Showing the sole of your shoe to someone in the Arab world is an extreme sign of disrespect. Iraqis hit a statue of Saddam with their shoes after U.S. Marines toppled it in 2003.
He's a hero in the Middle East and I could see him geting an international deal with a shoemaker. If not that, some are suggesting he get a job pitching for a Major League Baseball team. The Pittsburg Pirates, for example, recently signed two pitchers from India, so another from Iraq would only increase their global appeal.
If he doesn't go to prison, he might be looking for a career change as a way to market his new fame in the Arab world. The TV station that employed him hasn't said yet if he still has that job.
If he can get $10 million for one shoe, then maybe $20 million for both. I'm still trying to find out who now has the shoes and what type or brand they are.
The shoe thrower is loved in Libya, where a daughter of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader, awarded the journalist a medal of courage. Maybe he could go on tour with that and throw shoes at targets around the world. At least turn it into a video game.
Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com