NR: "In the blink of an eye, one Iraqi journalist both divided and united his country."

Length: 2:17

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A voice-over only piece that shows local Iraqi reaction to the reporter's gesture and the reaction from the Iraqi government.

HEIDI COLLINS: The fact of the matter is many people in the United States find the shoe throwing incident a little bit funny and they're glad the shoes missed their target. But it is evoking some very powerful mixed emotions in Iraq.

Michael Ware has the story.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With world leaders at a Baghdad podium, in the blink of an eye, one Iraqi journalist both divided and united his country, calling the gesture a "farewell kiss" to the American president. His actions have split Iraqi opinion right down the middle.

This Baghdad accountant says the shoe-throwing was wrong and not the behavior of an educated man... while this mechanic calls it impolite.

But there are now just as many who now cheer the 28-year-old journalist who reported from Baghdad's Sadr City slum.

"Sure, I was very happy. I consider it a victory," says this young law student. "The Americans invaded and destroyed our civilization, our books, everything that was beautiful, with even Baghdad losing its smile."

Some hail the journalist as a national hero. His own network, al-Baghdadia, is running nationalist music clips fonted with the reporter's picture and calls for his immediate release from police custody. Along the bottom of the screen are the names of politicians who want him freed, and endless text messages of support.

And in Sadr City, American flags were set ablaze in a large demonstration in the streets. Though many Iraqis found the insult offensive, it was not because it targeted U.S. president, George W. Bush.

"Bush deserves to have a shoe thrown at him, but it wasn't proper because he should show respect for the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki," says a local photographer.

Many also agree that the journalist should not be punished.

"He does not deserve legal punishment. It was involuntarily behavior in a moment of rage and emotion," says this mechanic.

"I asked the government to release him," this law student says.

This accountant thinks the journalist should have to apologize on his own television network.

Whatever the reaction, it barely seems to matter, for this moment will surely become another iconic image of an unpopular war.

Michael Ware, CNN, Baghdad.