Bush 'shoegate' sparks Facebook frenzy



 
Hundreds of groups on Facebook have been set up in support of the Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi who stunned the world on Sunday by hurling two shoes at outgoing US-President George Bush at a press conference in Baghdad.
 
By ALEXANDRA SANDELS
 
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BEIRUT, December 17, 2008 (MENASSAT)-  Hundreds of groups on Facebook have been set up in support of the Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi who stunned the world on Sunday by hurling two shoes at outgoing US-President George Bush at a press conference in Baghdad.

The 29-year old journalist is currently standing trial in Iraq and risks up to seven years in jail for 'offending the head of a foreign state', according to an AFP report.

Al-Zaidi's brother, Durgham, said his brother was brought before the judge in the high-security Green Zone in the heart of Baghdad.

Supporters of Al-Zaidi are now rallying for the detained journalist online.

More than three hundred groups, the majority of them being in Arabic, can be found on  the popular social networking site hailing Al-Zaidi as 'an Arab hero' and a  'Braveheart'.

Several of the groups have thousands of members, including the 36,000 member strong group "I'm a fan of the great hero who hit Bush with his shoes in Baghdad!"

The group "George Bush shoe thrower Muntadar Al-Zaidi" that goes under the slogan "damn he missed…but he is still a hero" recruited over 1000 members within the first 48 hours and now has more than 3000 supporters.

Other groups include "Freedom for the hero Muntadar al-Zaidi who hurled a shoe at Bush's head," "Muntadar Al-Zaidi is my fucking hero," and "All Our Shoes with Muntazar's Shoes."

"I'm mailing some old shoes to Bush -- let's protest Bush's idiotic actions and show our support for a brave man who let the shoes fly," read one comment posted in the comment section on one of the groups.

Al-Zaidi has been hailed in various ways by his online supporters. Some have written poems dedicated to the journalist in which they salute his heroism while others think that Al-Zaidi should be awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

There are also those who have taken the matter to even higher levels, saying that Al-Zaidi should be given the Nobel Peace Prize and that a statue should be erected in his name.

A Saudi Arabian citizen is reported to have offered 10 million Saudi Riyals or $27 million for buying what he called Al-Zaidi's "freedom shoes" that nearly hit Bush in the face on Sunday.

Meanwhile, those opposing Al-Zaidi's act have them also turned to Facebook.

On the page for the group "I disrespect the Arab (and his supporters) that threw his shoes at Bush!," the administrator, who himself claims to be Arab and not a Bush supporter, condemned Al-Zaidi's shoe-stunt as irresponsible.
   
"First of all, I'm an Arab, and I'd like to say that I hate President Bush just like many of you do for his unwise decisions and irresponsible actions. However, I find that, what the Iraqi Journalist did, whether or not Bush deserved it, was absolutely pathetic!" wrote the administrator.

"Did he achieve anything at all other than making us, the Arabs, look bad? I'm afraid the answer is no," he said.

Some also denounced the incident as disrespectful towards Bush and the US.

"Why is he a hero? He threw a shoe at our PRESIDENT….by idolizing him you guys are just making your self seem stupid, and ignoring  the fact that your supporting the disrespect of our president and the country," wrote one member of the group "Freedom for the hero who hurled a shoe at Bush."

Outside Facebook, an online game in which Bush tries to dodge shoes being thrown at him was also set up shortly after Al-Zaidi's stunt.

Hundreds of thousands of viewers have also tuned into the video-sharing site YouTube, to watch the infamous shoe-throw.

Sources: Daily News Egypt