Page last updated at 20:26 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

Bush shoe attack spawns artwork

The unveiling of the sculpture took place on Thursday

A sculpture of an enormous bronze-coloured shoe has been erected in Iraq to honour the journalist who threw his shoes at ex-US President George W Bush.

The sofa-sized artwork was formally unveiled in Tikrit, hometown of late Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.

Artist Laith al-Amari insisted it was not a political work, but a "source of pride for all Iraqis".

Mr Bush managed to dodge the shoes but the man who threw them, Muntadar al-Zaidi, was arrested and awaits trial.

As he pulled off his shoes, Mr Zaidi, now 30, shouted: "This is from the widows, the orphans, and those who were killed in Iraq."

He also told Mr Bush, who launched the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was paying a final visit to Iraq last month: "This is a farewell kiss, you dog".

Significant bush?

Mr Zaidi shot to fame as a result of his actions, which signalled extreme contempt in the Arab world, and inspired rallies across the Middle East and beyond.

Muntadar al-Zaidi (archive image)

About 400 people gathered on Thursday to see the monument unveiled - a shoe on a white pedestal, about 3m (10ft) high, with a poem praising Mr Zaidi at its base, AFP said. There is also a bush sticking out of the shoe.

The sculpture stands in the gardens of an Iraqi foundation that looks after children whose parents died in the violence following the US-led invasion.

The foundation's president, Shaha al-Juburi, said the sculpture was not backed by any political party or organisation.

Since his arrest, Mr Zaidi, a TV journalist, has reportedly been beaten in custody, suffering a broken arm, broken ribs and internal bleeding.

He has been charged with aggression against a foreign head of state, and faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted. His family denies he has done anything wrong.

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