Synopsis: Muntadhar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist that threw his shoes at Bush during a press conference in Iraq is back in the news. There is debate as to whether he is going to try to seek asylum in Switzerland.
- A Swiss lawyer says he is; his brother says he isn’t. The brother goes so far as to say that their family will sue the lawyer.
- Al-Zaidi’s Iraqi lawyers also say they don’t know anything about the asylum claim. They also say that there are no foreign lawyers on the case.
- Yann Golay, who is a spokesman for the Swiss Refugee Council, a non-governmental organization that helps asylum seekers in Switzerland, says that Al-Zaidi’s chances of getting asylum are slim, due to Al-Zaidi’s lack of ties to Switzerland.
- 164 Iraqi citizens out of 1,440 applications were allowed asylum.
Commentary: So far, this is non-news. It’s being denied by almost everyone, which doesn’t necessarily test its veracity, but it certainly doesn’t allow for anything conclusive.
As for the original situation, it seems fairly conclusive that he was beaten by security forces immediately after the incident and perhaps later on, as well. Therefore, it wouldn’t be beyond reason to think that he would want to have asylum granted. What is unreasonable is that he would be granted it.
Asylum is meant for the politically repressed. This is not a man that was peacefully protesting on a corner, a member of a rival political party or a possible future victim of genocide. This is a man that indisputably assaulted a world leader.
I was disgusted by the excitement that came about from the initial incident. Agree with, disagree with, love or hate Bush, it does no favors to your argument to stoop to the level of an outright crime.
On Episode 12 of Don’t Worry About The Government (downloadable here), I made the point that I sympathize with Al-Zaidi’s frustration. He was beaten and kidnapped by militants, as well as being detained twice by U.S. security forces. This would put a chip on most people’s shoulders. While one can understand why someone personally affected by the Iraq War would act out in such a way, it is not an act that should be applauded. And anyone that could talk about all of it with a smile was missing the point of the tragedies that he, along with many others, have gone through.
Such a person should be treated as a criminal, not as a punching bag or a political refugee.