Almost a decade after sparking an international diplomatic incident by throwing his shoes at former US President George W. Bush in Baghdad, Muntadhar al-Zaidi is planning a political career of his own.
The Iraqi journalist, now 39, is to stand for parliament in the forthcoming elections in Iraq — and has ambitions to become the country’s leader.
Al-Zaidi became a worldwide celebrity after throwing his shoes at Bush in protest at the US invasion during a news conference held in the Iraqi capital in December 2008.
Bush, who was making a farewell visit to the country at the time, avoided being hit by the shoes, but al-Zaidi was bundled to the ground and hustled out of the room by security officials.
While Bush flew home, al-Zaidi was sentenced to three years in prison, which was eventually reduced to just 12 months. He was released after nine months after being granted a conditional discharge.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Al-Zaidi is now a candidate in the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections on May 12.
Al-Zaidi has spent much of his time outside Iraq since being released from prison in 2009 but returned two months ago to take part in the elections after living in Beirut, Lebanon.
“As you know me from a long time ago, I will be supporting the oppressed people and be against oppressors,” he said in an online video.
Al-Zaidi is using his 2008 protest against Bush to gather support, posting the video of the incident to his Facebook campaign page.
The reporter called the shoe-throwing gesture — a traditional insult in Arab culture — a “farewell kiss” to a “dog” who launched the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The video shows Al-Zaidi shouting “You killed the Iraqis!” as security staff pinned him to the ground.
Bush ducked as the shoes sailed past his head.
“I don’t have any issue with America or Americans,” al-Zaidi told CNN on Wednesday.
“My only issue is with the former president George W. Bush. He occupied my country and he killed my people.
“If I become the prime minister of Iraq or the president then the first thing I will do is to ask the United States of America to officially apologize to all Iraqis, to compensate the victims and hold former president George W. Bush accountable.”