Reporter hurls shoes at President Bush during press conference - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reporter hurls shoes at President Bush during press conference

BAGHDAD (AP) - It gives fresh meaning to the phrase shooed away.

President George W. Bush ducked a pair of shoes hurled at his head - one shoe after the other - in the middle of a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Both shoes narrowly missed their target and thumped loudly against the wall behind the leaders.

"Don't worry about it," the president said as the room erupted into chaos.

Iraqi reporters started shouting what Bush later explained were apologies for the incident.

"So what if the guy threw a shoe at me?" Bush said, comparing the action to political protests in the United States.

"If you want the facts, it was a size 10," he joked.

The shoe attack came as Bush and al-Maliki were about to shake hands. The assailant - later identified as television correspondent Muntadar al-Zeidi - leapt from his chair and hurled his footwear at the president, who was about 20 feet away.

"This is the end," he yelled.

The crowd descended on al-Zeidi, who works for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt. He was wrestled to the ground by security officials and then hauled away, moaning as they departed the room.

White House press secretary Dana Perino suffered an eye injury after being hit with a microphone during the news conference melee. 

In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. When U.S. Marines toppled Saddam Hussein's statue on Firdos Square in 2003, the assembled crowd whacked it with their shoes.     

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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