Page last updated at 23:36 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Bush shoe sculpture 'taken down'

The unveiling of the sculpture took place on Thursday

A sculpture of a shoe erected in Iraq to honour a journalist who threw his footwear at George W Bush has been dismantled, reports say.

Foreign media say the bronze-coloured fibre-glass shoe was removed from its site in the city of Tikrit on the orders of the local authorities.

It had been erected in the grounds of an orphanage.

The monument was reportedly taken down just a day after being unveiled in the late Saddam Hussein's home town.

The head of the Childhood organisation, which owns the orphanage, said she had been told to remove the monument immediately by the Salaheddin Provincial Joint Coordination Centre.


A reporter shouts "this is the end" as he throws his shoes at President Bush

"I did take the shoe down immediately and destroyed it, and I did not ask why," Shahah Daham told the German news agency DPA.

Salaheddin's deputy governor, Abdullah Jabara, told DPA: "Children should be put away from any political-related issues. Since this is an orphanage, this monument can instil in children's heart things for which the time is not now."

Mr Jabara was also quoted by CNN as saying: "We will not allow anyone to use the government facilities and buildings for political motives."

'Source of pride'

When the sculpture was unveiled, artist Laith al-Amari insisted it was not a political work, but a "source of pride for all Iraqis".

Muntadar al-Zaidi (archive image)

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".

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

Since his arrest, the 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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