February 2, 2009
Baghdad – A sculpture of an enormous shoe erected in honour of the Iraqi reporter who hurled his shoes at then-US president George W Bush in December, was taken down on Friday.
The huge bronze-coloured sculpture, made of fiberglass, was erected at an orphanage complex in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit on Thursday.
The head of the Childhood organisation, which the orphanage belongs to, said that the Provincial Joint Coordination Centre told her to take the structure down immediately.
‘I did take the shoe down immediately and destroyed it; and I did not ask why,’ Shahah Daham, the head of the charity organization, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Assisted by children at the orphanage, Iraqi sculptor Laith al- Amiri erected a replica of one of the shoes Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi threw at Bush during the press conference he held with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad last month.
Throwing a shoe is a very insulting act in the Arab world. Al- Amiri insisted it was not a political work, but a ‘source of pride for all Iraqis.’
The 5,000-dollar shoe, which children at the orphanage helped al- Amiri build in 15 days, is 2.5 meters long and 1.5 meters wide.
Al-Zaidi, who is in custody awaiting trial, is regarded by many Iraqis as a hero and demonstrators last month took to the streets across the Arab world calling for his release.
Although some people said that the shoe was removed because of the charges pending against al-Zaidi, others question the importance of erecting such a monument inside a children’s facility.
‘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,’ Salaheddin deputy governor, Abdullah Jabara told dpa.
Tikrit, the capital of Salaheddin province, was the hometown of late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.