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Changing Baghdad's doormat

©Associated Press

April 12, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- There was a bit of unfinished business left over in Baghdad from the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The U.S. Army has taken care of it.

At the Al Rasheed Hotel, President Bush the elder -- father of the current American chief executive who ordered this year's invasion of Iraq -- is a doormat no more.

U.S. soldiers visited the battered Al Rasheed on Thursday night wielding hammers and chisels, and dug out the intricate tile mosaic of the former president that was used for years as a state-sponsored insult.

In its place, they laid a portrait of Saddam Hussein.

"Everybody walked over it and wiped their feet on it," Lt. Col. Rick Schwartz, the battalion commander said. He left the Hussein portrait behind for future use.

Taking shoes to the face is not exactly a compliment in any culture, but in the Arab world it's a particular slam. Pointing the soles of one's feet at someone is a grave insult.

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