Thursday, June 2, 2011

'I have no regrets at all about what I did'

from Times of India
Iraqi broadcast journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi shot to fame shouting, 'this is the farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog,' while throwing a shoe at US President George W Bush in 2008. Al-Zaidi was in Delhi to watch a play, The Last Salute, based on that incident. He spoke to Subhash K Jha:
How did it feel watching a play based on an incident from your life?
It gave me great joy to see that people of India are feeling the grief of the people of Iraq under US occupation.
Did the play capture the situation in Iraq realistically?
Yes! The play has truthfully captured the important part of US atrocities on Iraqi people. The scene of eight-year-old Zahra who was brutally killed by US forces made me cry. Even the scene of the hospital after bombardment where hundreds were shown screaming for help moved my heart. While watching the play i felt that everything was happening again, all the incidents that led up to my doing what i did.

What did you think of Imran Zahid's performance playing you?

Imran has that kind of feeling, which is very important for this type of play, and his performance throughout the play was very sincere.

Was this your first visit to India?

Yes. It was my first visit to India but i would love to come again and spend some more time with Indian people. It was a very short visit and restricted to Delhi, but i went to Rajghat to see the mausoleum of the great Mahatma Gandhi who inspires us and i liked interacting with the people there, especially children.

Your part of the world remains in political turmoil. Do you see a solution in sight?

Yes, people should stand up against dictators and use peaceful protest as people did in Egypt and Tunisia to bring down the tyrants.

Do you think the voice of dissent that your shoe-throwing incident symbolised is important for civilisation to move forward?
My means of protesting is not for all times and all peoples. Each protest is shaped by its times. My aim was to try to remind the world, especially the rich and powerful who are equipped with all the latest things be they gadgets or weapons, that oppressed people can stand up, can fight against atrocities. My protest was made because the media, especially the free media of the free world, i mean the western media in particular, reported that the people of Iraq welcomed US forces with flowers. There is no other way of putting this. What they said was a lie. So by throwing this shoe i tried to get a message across, and it was that if the people of Iraq got the chance they would welcome the president of the US not with flowers, but shoes.
What do you make of Osama bin-Laden's killing and what will the impact be internationally?
Killing a person cannot change the world. What will is ending every kind of human rights violations and the whole idea of killing. As for the actual assassination, i don't trust what US sources say about it. They've propagated several lies, starting with the reason for invading Iraq, that we had WMD. It's on the basis of this lie that they continue to wage war on us. I personally know the West lies. After i hurled the shoe at Bush, the media of the supposedly free world reported that i apologised for the act and considered it was a crime. I never did this. I have no regrets at all about what i did.

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