Peter Gray flings his shoes at John Howard after demanding former leader defend sending troops to Iraq.
A man protesting against the Iraq war hurled his shoes at Australia’s former prime minister during a live TV show, mimicking the shoe-throwing protest aimed at former President George Bush in Baghdad two years ago.
Peter Gray flung his shoes at John Howard, a Bush ally in the Iraq war, after demanding the former leader defend his decision to send 2,000 troops to support the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“That’s for the Iraqi dead!” Gray shouted as he flung the shoes during the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s live Q&A programme. The shoes missed their target and Gray was escorted from the studio.
The protest, shown repeatedly on Australian morning TV programmes today, echoed a similar incident in 2008, when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at then-President Bush during a press conference in Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Howard had a close relationship with Bush, and Australia was one of the first countries to commit troops to Iraq.
During the ABC broadcast, Howard, who is promoting his memoirs, entitled Lazarus Rising, was forced repeatedly to defend his support of the Iraq war.
“I thought it was justified,” Howard 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.”
At that point, Gray stood up and threw his shoes at Howard.
Howard laughed the incident off during the programme, telling the show’s host, “Forget it, forget it.”
“Is anyone here taking their shoes off? I’m looking around,” Howard said during an interview with Macquarie Radio. “All in a night’s work.”
Gray said his actions were justified.
“I did it so there was a chance that thousands of people, tens of thousands of people, in the rest of the world, particularly in the Middle East, could see that not every Australian was behind the decision to invade and rule in the country of Iraq,” Gray told ABC. “I did it for tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dead and those that are still living.”