Was Throwing a Shoe at Bush a Violent Act?
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I agree that Saddam was a brutal dictator, and yes, we Kurds were victims of his brutality. I always dreamed about freeing ourselves from his rule. We were happy to get rid of Saddam, and many trusted the United States and thought it would bring democracy.
But then we saw our country go from a dictatorship to an occupied nation. Why should the cost of getting rid of Saddam be a U.S. invasion and occupation? Is that our only alternative?
How can we accept the presence of armed foreigners in the streets of our country? For years, they have been ordering us around us at checkpoints, breaking down our doors in midnight raids, imprisoning our loved ones without cause and torturing them. Should we thank Bush and the U.S. government for that?
Besides, it was not the role of the United States to get rid of Saddam. That was for us, the Iraqis. Many people around the world didn't like Bush. But would Americans have wanted a foreign military to invade their country to get rid of him? Would that be acceptable to Americans? I don't think so.
MB: What do you suggest people do to support al-Zaidi?
HAB: It is absurd that al-Zaidi will spend three years in prison while George Bush walks free. It is Bush who should be in prison for war crimes. I also fear for al-Zaidi's life if he remains in prison. He was already tortured while the world spotlight was on him; imagine what might happen when people have forgotten him. He could easily be killed by government agents.
If Prime Minister Nouri Al-Malaki believed in democracy and human rights, he would consider al-Zaidi's act an expression of free speech and pardon him.
If there is enough public pressure, that could happen. People should sign petitions, and call the Iraqi Embassy in Washington and the Iraqi Mission to the U.N. It is only through public pressure that he can be released.
Medea Benjamin is co-founder of Global Exchange and Code Pink: Women for Peace. Contact the Iraqi Embassy at (202) 483-7500 and the Iraqi Mission to the U.N. at (212) 737-4433. Sign petitions at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/424/signUp.jsp?key=3909.