Shoe-Hurling Iraqi Journo Gets Hero's Welcome in Geneva

By: The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush leaned back in his chair and soaked in the round of applause.

This was not Baghdad or Damascus or Beirut. This was Geneva, where Muntadhar al-Zeidi was given a hero's welcome Monday far warmer than the subdued reception in his own homeland.

"I am one of the victims of the occupation," al-Zeidi said at a press conference alongside two local politicians, repeating his allegations that he was severely tortured, including with electric shocks, during his nine months of Iraqi detention.

His claims were often inexact, and it was unclear if the confusion was a result of faulty interpreting.

He said he was tortured for "three months," and then later he said the mistreatment was over "three days."

He pledged to decline all gifts from wealthy Arabs until he sets up a foundation to support suffering Iraqis and said he was visiting Switzerland and other countries with financial support from friends.

He condemned the United States, saying it played a role in 1 million deaths and forcing 5 million people to flee. He made no mention of the violence among Iraqi groups since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

Most of Iraq's 2 million international refugees live in neighboring Syria and Jordan, while the International Organization for Migration says a similar number of Iraqis are uprooted inside the country's borders. About 100,000 Iraqis have suffered violent deaths over the last 6 1/2 years, according to The Iraq Body Count, a London-based group whose figures are widely considered a credible minimum.


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