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The Hadash faction has posted on its Web site a petition calling on Iraqi police to release from custody the reporter who was detained after throwing his shoes at visiting U.S. President George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference on Sunday.

The petition has been signed by more than 200 people in Israel and across the world since it was posted on Monday.

Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi was arrested after hurling both his shoes at Bush and shouting in Arabic, "this is a farewell kiss, you dog. This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq."

The incident spurred glee across Iraq and the Arab world. Many in the Mideast saw the act as heroic, expressing the deep, personal contempt many feel for the American leader they blame for years of bloodshed, chaos and the suffering of civilians.

Images of Bush ducking the fast-flying shoes at a Baghdad press conference, aired repeatedly on Arab satellite TV networks.

Zaidi, accused by the Iraqi government of a "barbaric and ignominious act," will be tried on charges of insulting the Iraqi state, said the Iraqi prime minister's media advisor, Yasin Majeed.

The Arabic-language petition on Hadash's Web site calls on the "American occupation regimet and the Iraqi government reigning in its name" to free Zaidi at once.

The petition defends Zaidi's actions as having been a "cry of humanity in the presence of one of the most dangerous war criminals in the modern world.

The 200 signatories on the petition include Arab residents of Israel and the West Bank, as well as residents of Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon. Internet surfers from Europe and the United States have also signed on to the petition.