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Mercedes gift for Iraqi 'hero'

THE Iraqi television reporter who threw his shoes at US President George Bush may have become an iconic figure in the Arab world, with one of his biggest fans here in Bahrain.

Bahraini businessman and social worker Quresh Khan Buneeri wants to gift his six-door Mercedes to Muntazer Al Zaidi.

He said that he would like to present the 1990 model limousine as a token of appreciation for his action in Baghdad earlier this week, even if it meant he has to drive all the way to the Iraqi capital to do so.

Mr Buneeri, originally from Pakistan, said he was "extremely proud" that a fellow human being, let alone an Arab or a Muslim, had finally managed what "every single one of us has been wanting to do for a long time".

"Mr Al Zaidi deserves more, much more," Mr Buneeri told the GDN.

"The 'parting kiss' Mr Bush has received is the most appropriate gesture an Arab has made in the last eight years he has been in office.

"This is my humble way of showing my support. I salute him. I feel this will make Mr Al Zaidi feel he is not alone. We are with him."

Mr Buneeri said he was open to suggestions on how the vehicle could be delivered to Mr Al Zaidi, but would not mind driving it himself to the journalist's doorstep wherever he may be.

"The Iraqi government should have made him a pin-up figure and not put him behind bars. He is a hero - the only real hero," he said.

"My blood boils at the very sight of this US president and I always avoided watching the news on television.

"But now, I have not tired of watching this episode over and over again. I watch television only in the hope that I will see that clip again."

President Bush was holding the Press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki when Mr Al Zaidi shouted "It is the farewell kiss, you dog!" and threw two shoes at the US leader.

Mr Bush ducked and the first shoe hit the American and Iraqi flags behind the two leaders, while the second was off-target.

He was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and marched from the room as he shouted, "You are responsible for the death of thousands of Iraqis". Reports suggest Mr A Zaidi risked a minimum of two years in prison if he is prosecuted for insulting a visiting head of state, but could face a 15-year term if he is charged with attempted murder. The journalist is a 28-year-old graduate of communications from Baghdad University. Chaos in parliament - Page 23



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