Libyan group gives shoe-throwing reporter award

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush was given a bravery award Monday by a Libyan charity group chaired by leader Muammar Gaddafi’s daughter.

The charity group Wa Attassimou also urged the Iraqi government to release television reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi after he was detained Sunday for hurling footwear at Bush and calling the president a “dog” — both severe insults in the Middle East.

“Waatassimou group has taken the decision to give Muntazer al-Zaidi the courage award … because what he did represents a victory for human rights across the world,” the group, headed by Aicha Gaddafi, said in a statement.

The group said the Iraqi authorities should honor the journalist for his actions.

Zaidi, accused by the Iraqi government of a “barbaric and ignominious act” will be tried on charges of insulting the Iraqi state, said the Iraqi prime minister’s media advisor, Yasin Majeed.

Arab and Iran TV stations have gleefully replayed the footage of the incident, which for many in the region was seen as a fittingly furious comment on what they view as Bush’s calamitous Middle East legacy.

Aicha, a lawyer by training, was fiercely opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. She offered to defend Saddam Hussein after his capture by U.S. forces from an underground hideout at the end of 2003.

After years of tension between Libya and the United States there have been recent signs that ties between the two countries are warming.

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