In parks and dress shops, in university halls and on picnics, Iraqi women remain smitten — three months and one new U.S. president later — by the shoe thrower, Muntadhar al-Zeidi.

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BAGHDAD — What does it take for an Iraqi woman to fall in love with a man?

In parks and dress shops, in university halls and on picnics, Iraqi women remain smitten — three months and one new U.S. president later — by the shoe thrower, Muntadhar al-Zeidi.

His conviction and sentencing for three years Thursday only burnished his image as a Robin Hood character, someone who lives out the dream of the common man and in doing so becomes gallant and desirable.

Zainab Mahdi, 19, a student sporting a red baseball cap, swung on a swing set in a riverside park Friday and spoke admiringly of al-Zeidi.

“Every Iraqi wanted to beat Bush,” she said. “Muntadhar made our wishes come true.”

Her sister, Hanan Mahdi, 22, who was standing next to the swing set, spoke with passion in her voice. “Muntadhar make us proud of ourselves as Iraqis,” she said.

“We were in Syria when he hurled his shoe at Bush, and we noticed the change in the way Syrian people treated us,” she said. “They treated us in a better way.”

Al-Zeidi, whom Iraqi girls call informally by his first name, captured nearly everyone’s imagination when he threw his shoes at President Bush during a Dec. 14 news conference with the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki. While Iraqi men have been divided over al-Zeidi’s gesture, it was hard to find a woman who disapproved of him.

In conversations with 20 women in the past several days, most expressed strikingly positive sentiments about him and much anger about the three years he must serve behind bars.

“Zeidi restored Iraqi women’s dignity, which was stolen” since the 2003 American invasion, said Um Baneen, 31, a housewife who said it was Bush, not al-Zeidi, who deserved three years in prison. “No one dared to face Bush in the whole world, only Muntadhar al-Zeidi.”

Atiyaf Mahmoud, 19, in her first year of medical school, said, “I love Zaidi. I saw him in my dreams twice, the last one was after the trial, he was released and I went to congratulate him and shake my hand with him.

“I was so excited in that sweet dream,” she said. “I wish to have that dream again.”

Not so for Zahra Fadhil, 29, also a housewife, who said no model man would abuse democracy the way she said al-Zeidi did.

“The three-year sentence is a lesson to all Iraqis who are willing to do shameful acts and pretend that it’s democracy,” she said.