The Iraqi journalist who pitched his shoes at former United States President George W. Bush is in Geneva setting up a foundation to help Iraqi war victims. Munthader al-Zaidi, a television reporter, shot to fame on December 14, 2008 when he hurled his two shoes at Bush at a Baghdad news conference, shouting: “This is your farewell kiss, you dog!”
“From Geneva, the capital of humanitarian institutions, I am launching an appeal on behalf of my people,” Zaidi told journalists in Geneva on Monday. He aims to build orphanages, a children’s hospital, and medical and orthopaedic centres offering free treatment and manned by Iraqi doctors and medical staff. He also wants to set up income-generating schemes for widows to help them get back on their feet. The foundation carries his last name.
Zaidi arrived in Switzerland on October 13 on a three-month tourist visa, accompanied by his brother. He was released on September 15 after spending nine months in an Iraqi prison. “He hopes to surf on the wave of support he has gained to do some good,” explained Mauro Poggia, his Swiss lawyer, who organised the visit.