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Flying Shoes Create a Hero In Arab World

An Iraqi journalist threw two shoes at President Bush during a news conference Sunday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The president was not hurt in the incident. Video by AP

In the southern city of Najaf, several hundred followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets Monday, describing Zaidi as a religious warrior. They threw shoes at U.S. military Humvees but the Americans did not respond, witnesses said. In Sadr's Baghdad stronghold of Sadr City, protesters burned American flags and chanted, "Bush, Bush listen well: We pushed you out with two shoes."

But Hassan Jarrah, a government employee in Najaf, said that Zaidi should have "expressed his personal views of protest by words, not through assaulting President Bush."

"What he did is condemned by all decent, reasonable people," Jarrah added. "We should show to the Iraqi public and the world at large that we Iraqis do not condone such acts, and we are innocent of his actions."

Zaidi's brothers said they had received scores of offers from lawyers to represent him. Iraqi politicians have also expressed their support, but Durgham said he was worried about his brother. "If in front of TV cameras, they are beating him, can you imagine what they are doing to him behind the cameras?"

Correspondent Ellen Knickmeyer in Cairo; staff writer Dan Eggen

in Washington; special correspondents Sherine el-Bayoumi in Cairo, Qais Mizher and K.I. Ibrahim in Baghdad, and Saad Sarhan in Najaf; and other Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

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