An Iraqi journalist who shot to fame after he called former US president George W. Bush a “dog” in Arabic and threw his shoes at him has announced his intention to run in the May 12 parliamentary elections.
Muntadhar al-Zaidi made the announcement in a video posted on YouTube video-sharing website, stating that he would join the Sairoun Alliance, which is backed by prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and includes the Iraqi Communist Party.
Zaidi has promised in his Twitter posts to “sweep the corrupt” from office in Baghdad.
“Oh parties of banditry and sectarianism and corruption, we have come and our goal is to destroy you,” he wrote in one of his tweets.
Zaidi worked as a reporter for Cairo-based al-Baghdadia television network. He became a cult figure across the Middle East after he hurled both his shoes at Bush during a press conference in Baghdad back in December 2008.
“This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog,” Zaidi yelled as he tossed the shoe before being pinned to the floor by security personnel. “You killed the Iraqis!”
Colleagues and family said at the time that he had been inspired by what he saw as the injustice of the US-led invasion of Iraq and the violence that followed.
Zaidi was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail following the shoe incident. Good behavior saw him released after nine months and he left Iraq in 2009, and spent several years in Lebanon, before returning two months ago to launch his campaign.
He now runs the Zaidi Foundation, which supports children who have lost their parents during the US occupation of Iraq.
Zaidi once told CNN television news network in an interview that he may have aspirations of running for Iraq’s top office.
“If I become the prime minister of Iraq or the president then the first thing I will do is to ask the United States of America to officially apologize to all Iraqis, to compensate the victims and hold former president George W. Bush accountable,” he commented.