Iraq's premier says shoe thrower got off lightly
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that Baghdad reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi who famously hurled his shoes at then-US president George W Bush was lucky to get away with three years' jail.
Al-Maliki, speaking in Canberra during an official visit to Australia, said a longer jail sentence or even execution could have been his punishment.
"The Iraqi people are a generous people and they have their norms and they respect the guest," he told local broadcaster SBS. "Al-Zaidi was not respected by the Iraqi people for what he had done."
During a press conference in Baghdad in December, the reporter missed the president but was lauded for his actions by some in the Middle East, dpa reported.
The prime minister said Iraq had paid a high price in death and destruction in the six years since the US invasion but it was still preferable to life under former strongman Saddam Hussein.
He said many of those who died would have been killed by Saddam had he continued in power.
"They would have been killed," al-Maliki said. "To get rid of this regime and the danger that was posed against the region, there had to be sacrifices and losses."