The square in front of the July 14 Bridge in Baghdad is closed by troops several times a day. The square is not far from the Green Zone and in front of the square lie the offices of the president and the head of the biggest parliamentary bloc.
No one ever objected, in the many times that I have been there, sitting in the car waiting for the convoy of X official to pass by, to the closing of the square by the military. We all turn off our cars and sit their and wait.
Today was different.
I couldn't believe my eyes.
Around 12:30 p.m. several vehicles loaded with Iraqi soldiers accompanying two or three buses stopped in mid-square and tried to close it (like every day) but they couldn't. Drivers refused to obey, saying we are tired of closed roads.
The horns of tens of cars were loud. Angry drivers were yelling at soldiers who picked up their rifles trying to stop the cars that refused to stop.
Shots in the air and pointing rifles at vehicles failed, the convoy had to park in another place.
The convoy wanted to park in the middle of the circle because the soldiers wanted to talk and discuss something … imagine.
The drivers wouldn't let them. The military saw, for the first time I think,mass anger for blocking roads.
I have seen this square almost every day for the last four years and nothing like this happened. The soldiers parked their vehicles in a way that allowed civilian cars to pass.
There was news today from Fallujah of students demonstrating,demanding the release of Muntathar al Zaidi,the journalist who threw the shoe at President Bush. The students waved their shoes and threw stones at the American soldiers. Things esclated and soldiers started to shoot, witnesses said. One student was injured.
These incidents and many quotes from ordinary people make me ask, did the reporter, Muntathar cause this?
People have been talking about Muntathar everywhere and at all times for the last two days. For many, he's become an idol and a star to follow.