Iraqi shoe-thrower captures Mideast rage at Bush


BEIRUT (Reuters) - The hurling of shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush on his farewell visit to Iraq strikes many in the Middle East as a fittingly furious comment on what they see as his calamitous legacy in the region.

Arab and Iranian TV stations have gleefully replayed the clip, sometimes in slow motion, of an Iraqi reporter calling Bush a "dog" and throwing his shoes at him -- the Middle East's tastiest insults -- at a Baghdad news conference on Sunday.

The affront was a twisted echo of the triumphal moment for Bush when joyous Iraqis used their footwear to beat a statue of Saddam Hussein toppled by U.S. invading troops in 2003.

"It indicates how much antagonism he's been able to create in the whole region," former Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told Reuters, adding that the incident was regrettable.

Bush had harmed America's reputation and the friendship many had felt for it. "Despite past mistakes in its policies, there was always a redeeming factor. In this particular case, there doesn't seem to have ever been a redeeming factor," Maher said.

Muntazer al-Zaidi, who works for independent al-Baghdadiya television, has shot to local stardom for his attack on Bush and his cry: "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog."

He has also won instant fame abroad -- a poem on an Islamist website praises him as "a hero with a lion's heart" -- although the Iraqi government slated his "barbaric and ignominious act."

Zaidi's crude public display of disdain for an incumbent U.S. president hit a chord with many in the Middle East.

"The Iraqi journalist is a true and free Baghdadi," said a Saudi private sector employee who gave his name as Abu Faisal. "He was brave and did us proud. Bush destroyed (Iraq) so surely he deserved to be beaten with a shoe."

Khalid al-Dakhil, a Saudi university lecturer in social politics, said the incident summed up Bush's impact on the Middle East, which "will haunt this region for a long time."

Dakhil, who said Bush had committed war crimes in Iraq after launching a war based on "lies" that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction, nevertheless fretted about the shoe-throwing.

"While understandable, it wasn't the most sophisticated and constructive way to express one's anger at Bush, especially coming from an educated Arab journalist. It reinforces the stereotype ideas in the Western world about Arabs."

Some Palestinians, whose hopes of independent statehood have withered in the eight-year Bush era, relished the moment.

"A shoe company in Hebron claimed the attack on Bush and they will give the attacker shoes all his life," runs one joke being exchanged on mobile telephones in the Gaza Strip.

"LEGACY OF DISGRACE"

In Iran, under U.S. pressure over its nuclear program, ordinary people had no good words for the outgoing president.

"He left a legacy of disgrace for America. His name will certainly go down in history and be remembered for all bad things for ever," said pensioner Assadollah Ghorbani, 67.

Parviz Alousi, 59, a former Iranian industry ministry employee, said the Bush had only created problems for the world, which "because of his ego" he had sought to dominate.

Some political analysts in Lebanon took an equally scathing view of Bush's policy record in the region.

"To say disaster is an under-statement. The best thing he can do is exit the White House," said Hilal Khashan, political science professor at the American University of Beirut. "I can't remember a lower point in U.S. prestige abroad."

Arabs have long fumed at American support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians, but Bush's war in Iraq created a new source of anger and instability in the Middle East.

"It's a sore, open and bleeding wound, just as the Palestine issue is," said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, an expert on Hezbollah.

The Iraqi shoe-thrower had found a far more telling protest than raising a banner or poster showing war victims, she argued.

"It's a sign of empowerment. He was saying not only that your (Bush's) legacy is one of disgrace, not only do we see you as lowly, but that we can overpower and defeat you."

Mohammed al-Masri, a researcher at Jordan University's Center for Strategic Studies, saw the vignette as iconic.

"Arabs will always remember the shoes hurled at Bush as symbolizing their deep frustration with his failed policies."

The insult to Bush also embarrassed Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was standing beside him at the time.

They were marking the recent passage of a security pact that calls for U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011 -- a major challenge awaiting President-elect Barack Obama.

Many in the Middle East are pinning hopes on the next U.S. president, despite past disappointments.

"Any change appears welcome because we had reached the bottom," said Maher, Egypt's former foreign minister.

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On Monday's episode of "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn opened up about the tragic death of his brother-in-law, Vincent Colonna Jr., who passed away unexpectedly on April 5. He also shared some of the important thoughts and insights he's learned through the grieving process.

"Last Monday, I was sitting in this chair ... the two-minute warning comes and Stu said to me, 'You ready for the show?'' ... And that's when my wife [Tania] came to the door of the studio here at our house and said, 'I...' and she held the phone up. And then she collapsed on the floor in tears," Glenn began. "Tania's brother had passed. To say this was a shock, is an understatement."

Glenn described his brother-in-law as having "a servant's spirit."

"He was always the guy who lit up the room. He was always the guy helping others. He would never stop, because he was always helping others," Glenn said of Vincent. "He was on the school board. He was a little league coach. He was the soccer coach. He helped build the church. He took care of the lawn of the church. He was constantly doing things, raising money for charity, working over here, helping to organize this. But he was never the guy in the spotlight. He was just the guy doing it, and you had no idea how much he had done because he never talked about it.

"We also didn't know how much mental anguish he was in because he never talked about it. And last Monday morning, after spending Easter with the family ... he killed himself. This is now the third family member of mine that has gone through this. And I keep seeing it play out over and over and over again, in exactly the same way."

Glenn described his thoughts as he, Tania, and her family struggled to come to grips with the devastating loss.

"I learned some really important things as I was watching this wake. I'm seeing these people from all walks of life ... the people that were there, were there because [Vince] made a difference in their life. He was a true servant. As I'm watching this, all that kept going through my mind was, 'by their fruits, ye shall know them.' The fruits of his labor were on display. He was a servant all the time. All the time ... he found a way to love everybody.

"There are two great commandments: Love God with all your heart and mind and soul. And love your neighbor. So those two great commandments boil down to: Love truth. Because that's what God is," Glenn said.

"Love thy neighbor. That's where joy comes from. The opposite of joy is despair, and that is the complete absence of hope ... and how do you find joy? You find joy by rooting yourself in the truth. Even if that's a truth you don't want to accept. Accept the truth," he added. "But we have to stop saying that there's nothing we can do. What are we going to do? Well, here's the first thing: stop living a lie."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn:


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After imprisoning a pastor for refusing to follow COVID-19 restrictions, Canadian officials barricaded his church. And when some church members retaliated by tearing down part of the fence, Canadian Mounties arrived in riot gear.

Rebel News Founder Ezra Levant joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to give his insight on the crazy situation. He described the new, armed police presence surrounding GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, and how it not only encouraged hundreds of protesters to stand with the church in support but forced congregation members underground to worship as well.

What's happening is eerily similar to what occurs everyday in China, Levant says, and it must stop. Who would have thought this type of tyranny would be so close to home?

Watch the video below to hear Ezra describe the religious persecution taking place in Canada.


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Enough prayers? Why is supposed Catholic Joe Biden suggesting that Congress ought to stop praying for after someone commits acts of gun violence?

On Friday, Stu Burguiere and Pat Gray filled in for Glenn and discussed President Joe Biden's remarks during his speech on gun control. "Enough prayers. Time for some action," Biden said. Stu and Pat were surprised how dismissive Biden appeared to be on the idea of prayer.

Watch the clip to hear more. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Just days after Canadian pastor James Coates was released from prison for refusing to bow to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, several police officers showed up at another church to ensure restrictions were being followed. But Polish pastor Artur Pawlowski of the Cave of Adullam Church in Alberta, Canada, knew his rights, telling the cops not to come back until they had a warrant in hand.

Filling in for Glenn Beck on the radio program this week, Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere played a video of the interaction.

"Please get out. Please get out of this property immediately. Get out!" Pawlowski can be heard yelling at the six officers who entered his church.

"Out! Out! Out! Get out of this property immediately until you come back with a warrant," he continued. "Go out and don't come back. I don't want to talk to you. You Nazis, Gestapo is not allowed here! ... Nazis are not welcome here! Do not come back you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in a church during the Passover! You Gestapo, Nazi, communist fascists! Don't you dare come back here!"

Watch this clip to see the heated exchange:

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