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Baghdad shoe-thrower gets Swiss tourist visa

Switzerland's embassy in Beirut has issued a tourist visa to the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoe at former United States President George W. Bush.

Muntazer al-Zaidi will travel to Switzerland in the next few days, Mauro Poggia, his Geneva-based lawyer, told Swiss radio.

The visa will allow Zaidi to spend up to 30 days in Switzerland. He wants to start a charity and raise money for civilian victims of the Iraq war, his lawyer said.

Poggia said Zaidi, who was released from an Iraqi prison two weeks ago, had withdrawn his request for asylum in Switzerland. He has moved to Lebanon for security reasons.

In December 2008 Zaidi hurled both of his shoes at Bush during a news conference – missing him – and yelled: “This is your parting gift, you dog.”

Shoe-throwing has since established itself as a popular form of political protest. In February 2009 Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was nearly hit by an item of flying footwear during a visit to London.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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