Letting AP in on the Secret: Israeli Strip Searches are Torture

European Diplomats thought they had a problem at the border? They only got a couple of warning shots. They should have had to go through this like others had too. Then they would really  have something to whine about.

Seems they got off rather easy.

They should take a look at what was done to this young photojournalist. and others. Things that never made it to the mainstream media.

Letting AP in on the Secret:
Israeli Strip Searches

By Alison Weir

July 29, 2008

On June 26th a young Palestinian photojournalist named Mohammed Omer was returning home from a triumphant European tour.

In London he had been awarded the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for journalism – the youngest recipient ever and one of the few non-Britons ever to receive the prestigious prize.

In Greece he had been given the 2008 journalism award for courage by the Union of Greek Journalists and had been invited to speak before the Greek parliament.

In Britain, the Netherlands, Greece, and Sweden he had met with Parliament Members and been interviewed on major radio and TV stations.

In the US several years before, he had been named the first recipient of the New America Media’s Best Youth Voice award.

In an Israeli border facility he was violently strip-searched at gunpoint, forced to do a grotesque sort of dance while completely naked, assaulted, taunted about his awards and his ethnicity, and finally, when Israeli officials feared he might have been fatally injured, taken by ambulance to a Palestinian hospital; if he died, it would not be while in Israeli custody.

As readers may have already guessed, Israel was not part of Omer’s speaking tour.

AP, in its over 60 reports from the region in the following week never mentioned any of this.

The reason Omer was even in ‘Israel’ (actually, an “immigration terminal” controlled by Israel on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank) is a simple one: He was simply trying to go from Jordan to his home in the Gaza Strip. Gaza is basically a large concentration camp to which Israel holds the keys. It is extremely difficult for Palestinians to get out. It is just as difficult to get back in.

Despite Omer’s journalism credentials (Gaza correspondent for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and IPS, stringer for AFP, occasionally appears on BBC, etc.) and despite being invited to receive an international award, Omer was only able to exit Gaza through the considerable efforts of Dutch diplomats.

When the 24-year-old journalist tried to return to Gaza, it again required intercession by the Dutch Embassy. After being forced by Israel to wait in Jordan for five days (and therefore missing his brother’s wedding), Omer finally received word that he would be allowed to go home.

However, when he arrived at the Israeli immigration terminal, an Israel official told him that there was no entry permit for him in the computer and he was told to wait. Three hours later an official came out and took Omer’s cell phone away from him. While Omer’s Dutch Embassy escort waited outside, unaware of what was going on, Omer’s ordeal began.

“He then asked me to leave my belongings and follow him. I recognized we were entering the Shin Bet [Israeli internal security service] offices at Allenby. Upon entering, he motioned for me to sit in a chair within a closed corridor…

“After what seemed to be one hour and thirty minutes, both doors at the end of the corridor opened. I watched as one of the Palestinian passengers exited securing his belt to his trousers. A second man followed behind and was struggling to put on his T-shirt. Immediately I realized I was not in a good place. The rooms from which they exited must be used for strip searching…

A uniformed intelligence officer and two others began rifling through all of Omer’s possessions.

“They were looking for something specific but I wouldn’t know what until green eyes demanded, ‘Where is the money, Mohammed?’

“What money I thought. Of course I had money on me. I was traveling… For a moment I was relieved, thinking this was just a typical shakedown. I’d lose the cash with me, but that would be about it…

“However, my traveling money failed to suffice. Dissatisfied, he pressed, ‘Where is the money from the prize?’

“I realized he was after the award stipend for the Martha Gellhorn Prize from the UK and I told him I did not have it with me. I’d arranged for a bank transfer rather than carry it with me. Visibly irritated the intelligence agent continued to press for money.

“The room filled with more intelligence officers, bringing the total Israeli personnel, most well armed, in the room to eight: eight Israelis and me…

“Dissatisfied that larger sums of money failed to materialize, green eyes accused me of lying. I again repeated the prize money went to bank draft and I already had shown him all the cash I had on me. Avi interjected, ordering me to empty my pockets, which I already had. Seeing they had tapped out, he escorted me into another room, this one empty.

“’OK take off your clothes’ Avi the intelligence officer ordered.

“I asked why. A simple pat-down would have disclosed any money belts or weapons; besides, I had already gone through an x-ray machine before entering the passport holding area.

“He repeated the order.

“Removing all but my underwear, I stood before Avi. In an increasingly belligerent tone he ordered, ‘take off everything’.

“’I am not taking off my underwear,’ I stated. Again he ordered me to remove my underwear.

“At this point I informed him that an escort from the Dutch embassy was currently waiting for me on the other side of the interrogation center and that I was under diplomatic transit.

“He replied he knew that, thus indicating he didn’t care, and again insisted I strip. Again I refused. There was no reason for me to do so.

Omer asked:  ‘Why are you treating me this way? I am human being.’

“For a moment I flashed on the scene in the Oscar winning film, The Pianist where the Jewish man, being humiliated by a Nazi quoted Shakespeare, invoking his faith in place of written words, ‘Doth a Jew not have eyes?’ the old man queried, attempting to appeal to the humanity buried somewhere in the soul of his oppressor. Finding myself confronting the same racism and disdain I wanted to ask Avi, ‘Doth a Palestinian not have eyes?’

Would his indoctrination inoculate him from empathy as well? Likely, I reasoned, it would.

“Avi smirked, half chuckling as he informed me, ‘This is nothing compared to what you will see now.’

“With that the intelligence officer unholstered his weapon, pressing it to my head and with his full body weight pinning me on my side, he forcibly removed my underwear. Completely naked, I stood before him as he proceeded to feel me up one side and down the other…

“Avi then proceeded to demand I do a concocted sort of dance, ordering me to move to the right and the side. When I refused, he forced me under his own power to move side to side…”

After awhile Omer was allowed to put his clothes back on, but the interrogation continued. His eight, mostly armed interrogators taunted him over his awards, his appearance on BBC, and the misery he was returning to in what they termed “dirty” Gaza. Finally, after hours in Israeli custody and a total of 12 hours without food or water, Omer collapsed.

“….without warning I began to vomit all over the room. At the same time I felt my legs buckled from the strain of standing and I passed out… I awoke on the floor to someone screaming, repeating my name over and over…

“As he screamed in my ears I felt his fingernails puncturing my skin, gouging, scraping and clawing at the tender flesh beneath my eyes. This was the intelligence officer’s method for gauging my level of consciousness. No smelling salts as is the civilized manner for reviving a person. Clawing at my eyes and tearing the skin on my face proved his manner of rendering aid.

“Realizing I was again conscious, though barely, the Israeli broadened his assault, scooping my head and digging his nails in near the auditory nerves between my head and ear drum. Rather then render first aid, which is the protocol and international law in instances whether prisoners of war or civilians, the soldier broadened his assault. The pain became sharper as he dug his nails, two fingers at a time into my neck, grazing my carotid artery and again challenging my consciousness before pummeling my chest with his full weight and strength.

“I estimate I lay on the floor approximately one hour and twenty minutes and I continued to vomit for what seemed like a half hour. Severely dehydrated, focusing took flight and the room became a menagerie of pain, sound and terror. The stench further exasperated and seemed to inflame my captors further…

“All around me I heard Israeli voices and then one placed his combat boot on my neck pressing into the hard floor. I remember choking, feeling the outline of his shoe and in my increasing delirium thought for a moment perhaps someone was rendering aid. Reality destroyed that hope. Around me, like men watching a sporting match I heard laughing and goading, a gang rape of verbal and physical violence meted by men entrenched in hatred and rage… I again lost consciousness and awoke to find myself being dragged by my feet on my back through my vomit on the floor, my head bouncing on the pavement and body sweeping to-and-fro like a mop…

Eventually, Omer was transferred to a Palestinian hospital, but only after Israeli officials tried to force him to sign a paper absolving them from responsibility.

“In other words, if I died or was permanently disabled as a result of Israel’s actions, Israel could not be held accountable. One would think I was in a third world dictatorship rather than the ‘only democracy in the Middle East’. One would think.”

Where is AP?

One would also think that such treatment of a journalist by America’s “special ally” would be news.

Since journalists tend to be particularly concerned when fellow journalists are victimized, it would be expected that Omer’s abuse would receive considerable press attention – especially since he had just received international recognition from the journalism community. One can only imagine the multitude of headlines that would result if an Israeli journalist, perhaps even one who had not just been feted internationally, had been similarly treated by the Palestinian Authority.

Oddly, however, despite the fact that Reuters, BBC, the UK Guardian, Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, and others issued news reports, the Associated Press, which serves virtually every daily newspaper in the U.S., sent out nothing on it.

Astounded, I finally phoned AP headquarters in New York to find out how they had missed it.

I asked for the international desk, told them I had a news tip, and briefly described the incident. I was told, “Oh yes, we know about it.”

I asked them when they were going to report it and was told: “The Jerusalem bureau is looking into it.” The Jerusalem bureau is located in Israel; many of its editors and their wives/husbands/children have Israeli citizenship. It is not the most unbiased of bureaus. Yet, it is the control bureau for the region – the filter through which virtually all AP reports, photos, video footage from Palestine and Israel must pass.

A day or two later there was still no story. I phoned the international desk in New York again and was told that the Jerusalem bureau had decided not to cover the incident. There was no explanation.

I tried phoning higher-ups, including CEO Tom Curley, who goes about the country lecturing about the “public’s right to know” and Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor, to learn on what basis AP had determined this incident was not newsworthy. Neither returned my call. I kept trying, hoping to find somewhere in the AP hierarchy at least a semblance of a journalist committed to AP’s alleged mission of reporting the news “accurately and honestly.”

Finally, I found one. I reached the managing editor in charge of international reporting, and asked him why AP was refusing to cover the case of a prize-winning journalist being strip-searched at gunpoint and physically abused by Israeli officials when he returned to Gaza from receiving the Martha Gellhorn award in London.

The editor admitted that he hadn’t heard of the incident and was interested in the details. I told him what I knew, referred him to the UK Guardian article and others, and he said he’d look into it.

As a result, two weeks after Omer’s ordeal, and after Israel had solidified its denial narrative, AP finally sent out a report.

The belated story, datelined Jerusalem and carrying a byline by Karin Laub, left a great deal to be desired.

It depicted the incident as a “he said/she said” dispute, in which it termed Omer’s statements as “claims,” while never using this verb for Israeli statements. In every case Israeli statements are placed in the rebuttal position.

The lengthy article places Omer’s strongest descriptions in the second half of the story, where they would typically be cut by the averaged-sized print newspaper, and leaves out a great deal of important information.

For example, while AP reports that Omer was discharged from one hospital, it neglects to report that Omer was admitted to a second one where he was hospitalized for four or five days. It does not name the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, neglects any mention of other awards, and omits entirely Omer’s meetings with Parliament Members in multiple countries. It fails to report the statement by the former ambassador from The Netherlands:

“This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long-term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life … I am aware of the possibility that Mohammed Omer might be murdered by Israeli snipers or bomb attack in the near future.”

The international organization Reporters Without Borders reported issued a condemnation of the attack, stating that in the ten days preceding Omer’s incident alone, it had recorded five incidents of “wrongful arrest” of journalists by Israel, and that one journalist was still being held. None of this was in Laub’s article.

All of the missing material, of course, would serve to add credibility to Omer’s statements. Perhaps this pattern of omission was a coincidence.

Early in the story, while admitting that Palestinians complain about “rough” treatment at the border (a considerable understatement), Laub seems to go out of her way to discredit Omer’s description of being forcibly strip-searched, by writing: “However, Omer’s allegation of being forced to strip naked appeared unusual.”

The Strip-Searching “Secret”

This is a bizarre statement.

As Dion Nissenbaum, Jerusalem bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers,  wrote last year, “While Israeli security won’t admit it, it is a widely accepted secret that Palestinians and Arabs…are routinely subjected to intense, hours-long questioning that can include strip searches.”

Is it possible that AP is not in on this secret?

The reality is that frequent, random humiliation by Israeli soldiers and officials is part of the Palestinian experience. Numerous degrading strip searches – some of them particularly grotesque – have been forced on Palestinian men, women, and children of all ages for decades.

In addition, Israeli officials periodically strip search others whenever, it appears, they wish, including:
The British Consul General  (Israeli media reported that her search was “prolonged, needless and humiliating” and that she was “visibly upset)

An American holocaust survivor (she was treated to a “cavity search”)

Sixteen Christian evangelicals rounded up at gunpoint;

Journalists from around the world (an Argentinian journalist wrote: “… they made me go to another office and strip naked. An official came in stands next to me, while I’m naked, with a machine gun in his hand…” A Swiss reporter was forced to remove her pants in public and stand in her underwear, hands raised, in front of an x-ray machine);

A wheel-chair bound New Jersey woman with cerebral palsy whose sanitary pad was confiscated, humiliating her publicly;

An American doctoral student, who was also subjected to a cavity search…  and the list goes on and on.

Yet, somehow, AP missed all of these. In fact, amazingly, a LexisNexis search of Associated Press stories over the past 10 years, using the search terms “Israel” and “strip search,” turns up only one result – a few stories on a hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners protesting against, among other things, their daily strip searches by Israeli guards.

Since we think it’s unfair for AP to be excluded from what others in the region know, we compiled a very partial list of reports about Israeli strip-searches, with excerpts from each, and emailed AP the 25-page document. We asked for a correction and received the following response: “This acknowledges receipt of your e-mail. We have no further comment at this time.” Our request for an interview was “respectfully declined.”

Following are just a few of the stories on this topic that AP never reported to the thousands of newspapers, radio and television stations that rely on it for their foreign news.  The entire document is available on the If Americans Knew website.

* In 2007 the Palestinian Minister of Women’s Affairs issued a statement protesting the policy of Israeli soldiers taking Palestinian women “to separate rooms in the checkpoint and being forced to remove all clothes, to become fully naked.” The minister demanded that the UN and the international community provide security for Palestinian women.

* Even the New York Times (which justified it) reported about the Allenby border in 1987: “Before any visitor gets in, however, he must go through a stringent security check at the Israeli terminal. Besides being examined by metal detectors, each visitor must undergo a private strip search…”

* A University of Utah law student describes a PhD student conducting research in the region who was detained at the border crossing for six hours, “Then a female guard conducted a strip/cavity search while two male guards observed.”

* A British researcher reports: “While men have also reported forms of sexual torture in jail, women prisoners are particularly vulnerable to this as a form of humiliation by their captors. Women are forced to strip naked in front of guards, many of whom are male, and subjected to brutal body searches. Many women prisoners have detailed sexual assault by Israeli military and prison staff. On some occasions women are detained as a way of threatening or putting pressure on a male member of the family.

* A woman trying to reach a hospital reports: “…the labour pains grew stronger. I saw a lot of soldiers in front of me. I called out at them using the word “baby” which I think some understood. They started to talk to me in Hebrew as they pointed the guns towards me. They used signs and gestures. I understood that they wanted me to show them how pregnant I was which I did. One soldier asked me to take off my robe, which I did. But it was not sufficient and he asked me to remove the T-shirt and the trousers. I had no choice and I was ready to go as far as that in order to get to the hospital before it was late. He asked me to take off my underwear which I did. After this humiliation, they fetched a stretcher from one of the tanks. I was naked. I was carried to a tank and was given intravenous glucose into my arm. A few minutes later, they brought my father-in-law inside the tank. They drove for almost half an hour. I was thinking they were taking me to a nearby hospital but it turns out they were taking us back to the Huwwara checkpoint. We were taken out of the tank and were laid nude on the stretchers for almost one hour…”

* Reuters reported: “Three Israeli soldiers forced a Palestinian man to strip naked at gunpoint and walk like a dog in a West Bank city under curfew…A Reuters photographer snapped Yasser Sharaf, 25, standing naked in a cold, muddy street in Nablus on Sunday as two men were handing him clothes to put on and two Israeli armoured vehicles were pulling away from the scene.”

* Reporters who entered Nablus after the Israeli invasion of 2002 quoted from an interview with one of the inhabitants: “The men were then driven to a nearby yard, ordered to strip naked, and made to lie face down in the dirt. While my neighbor Jamal Sabar was taking off his pants, they shot him dead…”

*  “A soldier inside the jeep ordered me to raise my hands and get out of the car and said, ‘take off your shirt.’ I did; then he said, ‘and the pants.’ I did; then he said, ‘the undershirt and underwear.’ I begged him not to force me; and he said, ‘I’ll shoot you.’ And all the soldiers pointed their guns at me. I took off my underclothes and stood naked in front of everybody. He ordered, ‘proceed with your hands up.’ I came up to him and he gave me a transparent plastic bag to cover myself. He blindfolded me and made me sit 20 meters away. Then the soldier shouted at a passenger called Islam ‘Abed al-Sheikh Ibrahim, 18, who was sitting in the front seat, and ordered him to get out of the car. He told the soldier that his leg was broken, but the soldier insisted. He Islam got out and stood on his crutches. The soldier ordered him to take off his clothes. He tried by failed. The soldier came to me and removed the binding off my eyes and told me at gunpoint to go and help him take off his clothes. I went and helped the passenger take off all his clothes. The soldier told me to help him walk to the soldier. We walked up and he gave me another nylon bag for Islam. Then, he told us to sit on the ground. Soon after, the soldier ordered another passenger, Yasser Rasheed al-Sheikh Ibrahim,60, to get out of the car and take off his clothes like us…”

* The Guardian described an incident in which a commander was “awaiting a court martial on several charges, including ordering the boy to strip naked, holding a burning paper under his testicles, threatening to ram a bottle into his anus and threatening to shoot him…”

* “We were mostly older people, sick and wounded. We had nine handicapped people with us, three were from the same family, sons of Abu Ibrahim. Some of us were too old, they were senile. When they told them ‘go left’ they would go right, but they stripped them naked anyway. I tried to help them as much as I could. I was the only one who spoke Hebrew…Close to us was a group of young men. They were handcuffed, naked and lying on their stomachs. The Israeli tanks would pass by them so fast, only forty centimeters away from their heads.”

*  “Other residents described how young men were stripped naked and then shot. Yusuf Shalabi, a young man from the camp explained how the Israeli soldiers denied medical treatment to the wounded, ‘…I remember this nightmare very well. It is very difficult to talk about it. I remember them stripping the people naked, they would handcuff them and blindfold them. I remember seeing two wounded men, one was wounded in the shoulder and the other in the leg. They were screaming in pain and the soldiers would not allow them to be treated.’”

Incredibly, AP seems to have missed all of these, and more. As a result, Americans have little idea of the life is like for Paleestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Moreover, strip searches are just the tip of the iceberg. According to an Israeli government report released in 2000 (five years after it had been written) Shin Bet “used systematic torture against Palestinians and regularly lied about it.” An Israeli human rights organization estimated that 85 percent of Palestinian detainees had been subjected to torture.  In 2002 Foreign Service Journal carried a major expose on Israel torturing American citizens.  AP missed this Foreign Service Journal expose – as did, therefore, every newspaper in the country.

AP’s Ownership

AP is a cooperative. That means that every single newspaper, radio station, and television station that uses AP news stories is an owner of AP. This includes Democracy Now, which apart from a report on Mohammed Omer also seems to have covered this subject minimally, if at all.

It is time for all these news media, and for their readers, listeners, and viewers, to demand that AP provide the full story.

Americans have long given Israel, the size of New Jersey, far more of our tax money than to any other nation on earth. It is time to end the cover up. Americans need to know how Israel is using our money.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew (which found in a statistical study that in 2004 AP had covered Israeli children’s deaths at rates 7 times greater than they had reported Palestinian deaths). The full document listing Israeli strip searches can be viewed at http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/strip-searches.htmlDVDs containing a short video about Israeli strip searching of women and children are available for readers wishing to educate their local media and community on the information that AP is choosing not to report. The Washington Report has created a petition on the incident for people to sign.
Omer’s complete statement can be read at:

“British consul strip searched at Israeli PM’s office,” Rory, The Guardian, March 28, 2007

“Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Checkpoints: Strip-Searching Children,” Alison Weir, CounterPunch, March 15, 2007; Video interview: The Easiest Targets: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/about_us/easiesttargets.html

“Israelis arrest 16 from US in roundup of Christians,” Charles M. Sennott, The Boston Globe, October 26, 1999, Pg. A2

http://peoplesgeography.com/

http://www.fpa.org.il/?categoryId=422

“Humiliation and Child Abuse at Israeli Checkpoints: Strip-Searching Children,” Alison Weir, CounterPunch, March 15, 2007; Video interview: The Easiest Targets: http://www.ifamericansknew.org/about_us/easiesttargets.html

http://www.law.utah.edu/blogs/show-entry.asp?EntryID=252

http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=23480

“ALLENBY BRIDGE JOURNAL; A 15-Yard Span Over a Great Divide,” Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, July 18, 1987

http://www.law.utah.edu/blogs/show-entry.asp?EntryID=252

“Israel’s Palestinian Prisoners: The Forgotten Facts,” Isabelle Humphries, Researcher – Nazareth http://www.islamonline.net/

“Israel’s Implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), May, 2005, Al-Haq: Law in the Service of Man, the Palestinian Centre for Human rights (PCHR), and the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling (WCLAC)
http://www.pchrgaza.org/special/OPT%20CEDAW%20Main%20Review.pdf

“Israelis Make Palestinian Strip Naked,” Reuters, Nov. 25, 2002

“Jenin: Lying Down On Broken Glass, Crushing Bones,” April 16, 2002 (IslamOnline & News Agencies) http://www.islamonline.net/english/News/2002-04/16/article40.shtml

“Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian    Territory,” 01 – 07 September 2005, http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/W_report/English/2005/08-09-2005.htm

“Commander charged with torturing Palestinian boy,” Chris McGreal, The Guardian, October 22, 2002

“Stripping Palestinians has Become Common Practice: Eyewitness Accounts,” Suzanne Russ, Palestine Chronicle, November 26, 2002, http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/strippingcommon.html

“Stripping Palestinians has Become Common Practice: Eyewitness Accounts,” By Suzanne Russ, Palestine Chronicle, November 26, 2002, http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/strippingcommon.html

“Report: Palestinian suspects mistreated by Israeli captors,” Joel Greenberg, Chicago Tribune, May 6, 2007

“Arab-Americans in Israel: What ‘Special Relationship’?” Jerri Bird, Foreign Service Journal, June, 2002

Source

In case you don’t get it Mohammed Omer was “tortured” just trying to go home.

Also see:

Israeli Strip Searches: A Partial List

Why Americans get a distorted View of the Conflict between Israel and Palestinians

Gaza detainee treatment ‘inhuman’

Israeli troops fire warning shots at European Diplomats

Israel Broke Ceasefire From Day One

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Shoe-tossing journalist was abused, Iraqi judge says

Thousands of protesters are calling for the release of journalist

By Sarah More McCann
December 19 2008

An Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush at a press conference in Iraq last Sunday was beaten afterward, an Iraqi judge said Friday. The latest revelation in the incident that has garnered worldwide attention comes amid an Iranian cleric’s call for a “shoe intifada” against the US and praise for the journalist from a Malaysian leader, suggesting that US President-elect Barack Obama will face challenges to overcoming anti-US sentiments.

According to the Associated Press, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi had “bruises on his face and around his eyes” shortly after throwing his shoes at President Bush during a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Dec. 14.

Judge Dhia al-Kinani, the magistrate investigating the incident, said the court has opened an investigation into the alleged beating of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi.

Al-Zeidi was wrestled to the ground after throwing his shoes during the news conference Sunday by Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and there has been conflicting claims on his condition since then. One of his brothers said he was harshly beaten, but another said he seemed to be in good condition.

Al-Zeidi “was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him,” the judge told The Associated Press….

The judge said the investigation would be completed and sent to the criminal court on Sunday.

The Guardian reports Mr. al-Zeidi’s family claims US and Iraqi security teams are to blame for any injuries.

Zaidi’s family have said he suffered a broken arm and other injuries after he was dragged away by Iraqi security officers and US secret service agents.

Al-Zeidi, who called Bush a “dog,” is currently in custody, and may be charged with insulting a foreign leader, the AP reports. If found guilty, al-Zeidi could face two years or more in prison. Al-Zeidi did not lodge a complaint leading to the investigation of his alleged beating, and there are conflicting reports as to whether he wrote a letter to Mr. al-Maliki asking for clemency.

The incident sparked an outpouring of support for the journalist who tossed the shoes as “retaliation” for the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Middle East Times reports.

For many Iraqis and Arabs… the war was an illegal move against a sovereign nation, it had dismantled the state’s institutions, brought disorder and violence, provided fertile ground for more terrorism, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, made more than 4 million homeless, and fragmented an Arab country along sectarian lines. In other words, the war is widely seen as having destroyed Iraq.

So when Zaidi threw his shoes at the U.S. president as a “farewell gift” just a few weeks before Bush leaves the White House, the Iraqi journalist was seen as a hero; Dec. 14 was declared the “start of a shoe revolution,” and wealthy Arab businessmen offered to pay millions to buy the famous footwear that had narrowly missed Bush’s face, but hit the American flag behind him.

On Thursday, The Times (of London) reported that for days, protesters have been calling for the release of the journalist.

In three days Mr al-Zaidi has gone from minor television presenter to a hero of Islamic resistance. Thousands of Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, took to the streets in cities from Mosul to Nasiriyah yesterday in a second day of protests demanding his release. Smaller groups gathered in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Karachi. In Beirut university students threw footwear at an effigy of the American President before setting it on fire.

Al-Zeidi’s detainment caused a disruption within Iraq’s Parliament as well, The AP reports.

In parliament, lawmakers had gathered to review a resolution calling for all non-U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq by the end of June but those loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr interrupted the session.

They said parliament should focus on al-Zeidi’s case rather than the proposed legislation. The argument escalated with lawmakers screaming at each other, and finally leading [Parliament speaker Mahmoud] al-Mashhadani to announce his resignation, said Wisam al-Zubaidi, an adviser to Khalid al-Attiyah, parliament’s deputy speaker.

Religious and governmental leaders, too, from the Middle East to South Asia have professed support for the journalist, Reuters India explains.

Malaysia‘s foreign minister on Friday praised an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush earlier this week,…

“The best show of retaliation so far is the shoe throwing act by that remarkable reporter who gave President Bush his final farewell last week,” Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said at an event to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the United Nations.

“That shoe throwing episode, in my view is truly the best Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) to the leader who coined the phrase ‘axis of evil’ to denote Iran, Iraq and North Korea,” Rais said, according to the advance text of his speech.

Mostly Muslim Malaysia, a Southeast Asian country of 27 million people, opposed the Iraq war but is an ally of the U.S. and won favour from Washington after it cracked down on Islamic militants after the 9/11 attacks.

Rais has twice been the country’s foreign minister and usually is known for more measured tones.

In Iran, al-Zeidi received support in some religious circles, the AP reports.

In the Iranian capital Tehran, hard-line Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati praised the act at Friday prayers, calling it the “Shoe Intifadha.”

Jannati proposed people in Iraq and Iran should carry shoes in further anti-American demonstrations. “This should be a role model,” said Jannati.

In an interview with Tavis Smiley of NPR, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice downplayed the longterm effects of the shoe incident.

“Well, there is always going to be some criticism of American policy because we have to do difficult things, Tavis. And I know that it doesn’t matter who’s in office; we’ll have to do difficult things and sometimes people won’t like them. But what the President stood for and what was important about that trip to Iraq was he got to stand next to a freely elected prime minister of Iraq, in front of journalists who could speak their minds and even vent their anger. And that’s a far cry from when Saddam Hussein was in power. So if America stands for its values, it might not always be popular, but it will be respected.”

But the AP reports President-elect Barack Obama faces an uphill battle to win back the trust of many across the globe.

So the sight of an average Arab standing up and making a public show of resentment was stunning. The pride, joy and bitterness it uncorked showed how many Arabs place their anger on Bush….

The reaction explains in part the relief among Arabs over Barack Obama’s election victory, seen as a repudiation of the Bush era. But it also highlights the task the next president will face in repairing America’s image in the Mideast, where distrust of the U.S. has hampered a range of American policies, from containing Iran to pushing the peace process and democratic reform.

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Protests rise over alleged beating of ‘shoe man’ Muntadhar al-Zeidi

December 18, 2008

The furore over President Bush’s shoe-throwing assailant spread through Iraq and across international borders yesterday, claiming its first political casualty as protests grew over his continued detention and alleged ill-treatment.

The brother of Muntazar al-Zaidi, who secured his place in infamy with his outburst against Mr Bush at a press conference in Baghdad, claimed that the Shia journalist had been so badly beaten in custody that police were unable to produce him in court.

Mr al-Zaidi’s family were told that a court hearing had been held in his jail cell instead and that they would not be allowed to see him for at least another eight days. “That means my brother was severely beaten and they fear that his appearance could trigger anger at the court,” Dargham al-Zaidi said, adding that his brother had been treated for a broken arm and ribs at the military hospital in the green zone.

Anger at Mr al-Zaidi’s treatment erupted in the Iraqi parliament, provoking stand-up rows and prompting the resignation of the assembly’s notoriously hot-tempered Speaker. “I have no honour leading this parliament and I announce my resignation,” Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said after quitting the assembly amid chaos created by Shia politicians.

In three days Mr al-Zaidi has gone from minor television presenter to a hero of Islamic resistance. Thousands of Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia, took to the streets in cities from Mosul to Nasiriyah yesterday in a second day of protests demanding his release. Smaller groups gathered in the Paki-stani cities of Lahore and Karachi. In Beirut university students threw footwear at an effigy of the American President before setting it on fire.

In Egypt Muntazer al-Zaidi was so struck by Mr al-Zaidi that he offered his daughter in marriage, a proposition she wholeheartedly supported. “This is something that would honour me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero,” Amal Saad Gumaa, 20, said.

In Afghanistan, Mr al-Zaidi has become the subject of a Saturday Night Live-style television comedy show that used actors to reconstruct the scene.

Mr al-Zaidi has not been seen in public or by his family since he was hauled out from Sunday’s press conference by the bodyguards of Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister. He is under investigation pending charges of insulting a visiting dignitary, a crime punishable with a jail sentence of up to seven years.

At the press conference, Mr al-Zaidi, a reporter for the Iraqi al-Baghdadia television channel, rose to deliver a question before pulling off his shoes, one after the other, and hurling them at Mr Bush. “This is your farewell kiss, you dog!” he shouted in Arabic, combining two of the harshest insults in Middle Eastern culture. Mr Bush was uninjured but his press secretary, Dana Perino, appeared before reporters in Washington yesterday sporting a faint black eye, the result of a collision with a microphone in the mêlée.

Mr Bush has laughed off the incident, claiming not to understand the implied insult. It was “just a shoe”, he insisted. But nerves were rising in Washington at Mr al-Zaidi’s continued nonappearance, especially after the official spin that Mr Bush had brought Iraqis the freedom to register such protests without risking imprisonment or torture. The State Department said that it would issue a condemnation if it were true that Mr al-Zaidi had been beaten up.

Mr al-Zaidi’s protest has spawned a rash of viral internet games. One, from Dubai, called “Sock and Awe” gives players 30 seconds to hurl as many shoes as they can at Mr Bush, scoring a point for each direct hit.

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Related Links

Hundreds of Iraqis protest in Kufa, Iraq 19/12/2008

The shoe-throwing attack on US President George W Bush by Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi has sparked a raft of copycat protests around the world.

Lebanese and Palestinian protesters in Sidon, Lebanon 19/12/2008

This shoe-themed rally in Lebanon followed Sunday’s incident, when Mr Zaidi threw his shoes at Mr Bush during a news conference in Baghdad.

A box of shoes outside the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square, London 19/12/2008

Protesters in London even gift-wrapped a box of their shoes – in keeping with the festive season – and labelled it for “George W Bush” at the White House.

A protest in Cairo, Egypt 18/12/2008

In Egypt, ballet shoes were on offer from this reporter who gathered with her colleagues at the Journalists’ Syndicate in Cairo.

A Code Pink member dressed as President Bush is hit with a shoe during a protest near the White House 17/12/2008

The US president was not spared even on his home turf, where a member of the group Code Pink offered his services for target practice in Washington.

Pasban Pakistan activists protest in Karachi 17/12/2008

Protesters – like these in Pakistan – are demanding the release of Mr Zaidi, who has been detained since Sunday and shows signs of being beaten, according to an Iraqi judge.

Turkish leftists protest outside the US embassy in Ankara 18/12/2008

Mr Zaidi could face imprisonment on charges of insulting and attempting to assault a foreign leader, but he enjoys strong support from people in a wide range of countries.

Filipinos throw shoes at a picture of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during a Migrants Day protest in Manila 18/12/2008

The shoe-throwing trend is catching on in other parts of the world, with images of other world leaders – like the South Korean leader and the Philippines president – already falling prey.

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Numerous other reports at link below as well as links to petitions to release Muntadhar al-Zeidi.  Be sure to support Muntadhar.

You may even want to send Bush a Christmas greeting.  Information provided for that as well.

Protesters at White house and Protesters shake shoes at US Embassy in London

Klan Trial Goes To Jury

By Stephanie Segretto

November 14 2008

BRANDENBURG, Ky.
The teenager attacked by members of the Ku Klux Klan testified in court Friday.

Jordan Gruver, 19, and the Southern Poverty Law Center are suing Ron Edwards, the leader of the Imperial Klans of America, and former member Jarred Hensley for an incident back in 2006 at the Meade County Fair.

Gruver testified that he suffered a broken jaw and permanent nerve damage to his left arm, and that he doesn’t leave his house and rarely sleeps more than two hours at a time or he has nightmares.

“They said, ‘Something, something, you little spic,’ and I tried to correct them. I am not a spic, I am a Native American,” Gruver said. “They kept on calling me spic, calling me border-hopper, you know, illegal immigrant… It came down to where Andrew Watkins was sitting there spitting at me and kicking dirt at me.”Gruver said he was surrounded and knew something bad was about to happen.He said a Klan member threw whiskey in his face, and that’s when he turned to walk away, but ran into another Klan member who he said hit him in the face, knocking him to the ground.”I went to cover up my face in the fetal position, like this,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people was there. I can tell you that there was a lot of feet. All I could see was a bunch of feet. As they was kicking me, I prayed to myself. I said, ‘God, just please let me go. Please let me make it home.'”Edwards and Hensley are representing themselves. During closing arguments Friday, both said that what happened to Gruver has out of their control.”I cannot be responsible for what four people do on their own,” Edwards said. “That is basically violating my rights to belief. That’s what this is about. This isn’t about what I have done, even though the plaintiff’s counsel wants you to think that. I have not done anything. I have been legal in everything I have done.”The case is now in the jury’s hands.

Watch The Story

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Jury deliberations begin in Klan beating trial

November 14 2008

BRANDENBURG, Ky.

A substantial financial award would stop a Kentucky-based Ku Klux Klan organization in its tracks, a civil rights attorney told a jury on Friday in a civil trial against the group and two white supremacists.

“It’s all about the money. It’s all about the money,” said Morris Dees, lead attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks the Klan and other hate groups. “If you stop the money, you’ll cut the organization off.”

Dees and the center represent 19-year-old Jordan Gruver, an American citizen of Panamanian Indian descent, who sued the Imperial Klans of America, its Imperial Grand Wizard, Ron Edwards, and one of his former lieutenants, Jarred Hensley. A jury began to consider the case Friday after nearly three days of testimony. The lawsuit seeks more than $6 million.

Gruver testified on Friday that he suffered a broken jaw, bruised ribs and permanent nerve damage to his left arm after being beaten by four white supremacists at the Meade County Fair in July 2006. Two white supremacists who were initially part of the suit reached confidential settlements before trial.

Edwards and Hensley, both heavily tattooed with Confederate flags and Nazi and racist images, served as their own attorneys and declined to call any witnesses. In less than 10 minutes combined of closing arguments, the two men said they did not take part in beating Gruver.

Edwards asked the jury not to hold his beliefs against him.

“You may not agree with my beliefs, but that is your right,” Edwards said. “If these men had assaulted a white man, would this case be heard in this courtroom today?”

Hensley pleaded guilty in 2006 to attacking Gruver and served more than two years in prison. During closing arguments, Hensley told jurors he took the plea to avoid harsher charges and having a jury send him to prison because of his beliefs.

“Just because I wrote that I was guilty of it, doesn’t mean I did it,” Hensley said.

The three-day trial at the Meade County Courthouse focused on Gruver’s beating, the criminal history of members of the Klan and Edwards’ handling of his followers.

Throughout the trial, white supremacists wearing jackets covered in Nazi symbols watched inside the courtroom, while others lingered outside the courthouse amid the dozen sheriff’s deputies and state troopers providing security.

Gruver testified on Friday that he has nightmares about the attack and is afraid to leave the house. Gruver said he did not incite the attack and wanted nothing to do with Hensley and the other Klansmen at the fair.

“I knew you were not the nicest people in the world,” Gruver told Hensley during questioning.

“You put prejudice on my being a nice person because of my racial beliefs?” Hensley then asked.

“If you were the nicest people, you wouldn’t be calling me names,” Gruver said. “You’d be acting your age and not your shoe size.”

Source

I can only hope the jury does the right thing.

Putting White Supremacists out of business, is in everyones best interest.