Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Shoes thrown at former PM Howard

A man protesting against the Iraq war has hurled his shoes at Australia's former prime minister John Howard

A man protesting against the Iraq war has hurled his shoes at Australia's former prime minister during a live TV show.

The outburst mimicked the shoe-throwing protest aimed at former US president George Bush in Baghdad two years ago.

Peter Gray flung his shoes at John Howard, a key Bush ally on the Iraq war, after demanding that the former leader defend his decision to send 2,000 troops to support the US-led 2003 invasion.

"That's for the Iraqi dead!" Mr Gray shouted as he flung the shoes during the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's live Q&A programme. The shoes missed their target and Mr Gray was escorted from the studio.

The protest, shown repeatedly on Australian morning TV, echoed a similar incident in 2008, when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at President Bush during a press conference in Baghdad's Green Zone.

Mr Howard had a close relationship with Mr Bush and Australia was one of the first countries to commit troops to Iraq.

During the ABC broadcast Mr Howard was forced repeatedly to defend his support of the Iraq war.

"I thought it was justified," he said. "I think there were errors made after the military operation ended. I think there were too few troops and I think a mistake was made in disbanding the Iraqi army. But I will continue to defend ... the original decision on the basis on which it was taken."

It was then that Mr Gray stood up and threw his shoes at Mr Howard.

Mr Howard laughed off the incident during the programme, telling the show's host: "Forget it, forget it."

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