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Iraqi Shoe-Thrower Arrested for Supporting Protests

Iraqi reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi - who threw his shoes at then-US President George W. Bush in 2008 - gestures during a media conference at the Geneva Press Club in Geneva, October 19, 2009 (file photo)

The Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at then-U.S. President George W. Bush in 2008 was arrested Thursday for allegedly supporting protests by Iraqis demanding better services.

News agency reports say Iraqi security forces detained Muntazer al-Zaidi in Baghdad.

The Associated Press reports this is believed to be al-Zaidi's first public visit to Iraq since he left the country in 2009 after he was freed from prison.

AP quotes one of his brothers as saying the journalist returned to take part in a mass "Day of Rage" demonstration planned for Friday.

Al-Zaidi rose to fame in 2008 when he threw his shoes at Bush during a Baghdad news conference and called the U.S. leader a dog. Bush ducked and was not hit, and later shrugged off the incident.

The act turned al-Zaidi into an instant folk hero, inspiring rallies, offers of money and marriage, as well as a statue of a bronze shoe. The journalist said he was not a hero, but rather a man of principle.

Al-Zaidi said he threw the shoes, an insult in the Arab world, to defend Iraqis against the "injustice" he said befell them after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, including the killing of innocent civilians.

An Iraqi court initially sentenced him to three years behind bars, but the term was later reduced, and he was granted additional time off for good behavior.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.