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MID: Bush shoe-thrower sculpture given the boot in Iraq

31 Jan 2009 11:59 PM

TIKRIT, Iraq, Jan 31 AFP - A huge shoe sculpture honouring the Iraqi reporter who gained global fame by throwing his footwear at former US president George W Bush has now been dismantled, an official told AFP on Saturday.

"We have removed the shoe statue of Muntazer al-Zaidi, because we received an order to do so from the governor Salaheddin province," said Shaha al-Juburi, head of the children's foundation where the bronze sculpture had been erected.

The shoe -- in which a bush was planted -- stood three metres high and sat atop a white pedestal in Tikrit, the hometown of executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi artist Laith al-Ameri's sculpture was unveiled to the public just two days ago, on Thursday.

It was put up in the gardens of an Iraqi foundation that cares for children whose parents have died in the violence that engulfed the country after the US-led invasion of March 2003.

Zaidi, 29, secured instant international fame by throwing both of his shoes at Bush during the US president's farewell visit to Iraq on December 14, an action considered a grave insult in the Arab world.

The Al-Baghdadia television journalist faces charges of "aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit". Bush was not hit by the flying shoes, but if convicted Zaidi faces up to 15 years in jail.