For those of us lucky enough to live in societies where we demand the right to have our say and the right to protest, the recent sentence handed down to Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi of 3 years in prison should disgust us all beyond belief.
In December last year Mr. Al-Zaidi threw his shoes at former President Bush as a protest to the war in Iraq. He also hurled insults at Bush calling him a dog and stating that the shoes where a farewell kiss from widows, orphans & those who had died in the conflict. I hasten to add that the shoes did not hit the intended target as he skillfully ducked out of the way.
Apparently Mr. Al-Zaidi could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for his attempted protest against the war. Ironically Bush shrugged of the incident at the time and even joked about it later. The Iraqi government said his actions where shameful. The sentence seems more than harsh in the circumstances and certainly doesn’t fit the crime.
It reminded me of the incident in the U.K where Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was egged by angry protester Craig Evans. The offending article did in fact hit Prescott and he punched Evans in the face where upon a fight ensued. The pair had to be separated as Prescott was led away with egg on his face literally.
The Crown prosecution Service in the U.K determined that no useful purpose would be served by prosecuting Evans and the matter was dropped. Whilst I in no way uphold any kind violence it really seems a sad conclusion to this situation. If this had been an American or British citizen I am convinced the outcome would have been a simple slap on the wrist or a fine.
More recently UK MP Peter Mandelson had green custard thrown into his face by Leila Deen in protest to a proposed new runway at London’s Heathrow airport. Deen walked away without arrest, detention or any kind of intervention although apparently Scotland Yard is looking in to the matter. Maybe she will get 10 years or even the gallows?
It seems that Mr. Al-Zaidi was charged with assault which is odd as no assault occurred even though one was attempted. His 25 strong defense team could not prevent the custodial outcome. Appeals are apparently in progress and it is alleged that the decision was political rather than judicial, and I wonder just who the Iraqi courts wanted impress.
In conclusion the price of an opinion is clearly 3 years currently but we live in hope of equality for all.
Love and Peace Xan x
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Xander Gibb has written for many publications and writes with an unapologetic response to the world around.