For Amina bint Abdul Halim bin Salem Nasser

I was going to write about nomadism. My sources were going to be a Dominican priest who lived most of his life in Jerusalem and two Jewish scholars, one Hungarian and one German. The main idea I wanted to get across was the innocence, simplicity, and integrity of the nomadic way of life. I thought these things came through in the sources even though the scholars each had their own particular beliefs, as well as some of the prejudices of their age. Two divergent points of view honored the nomadic stage of human existence as the foundation of the truest sort of society. It seemed like good timing for such an article, right before Christmas. But on December 12, a woman was executed in Saudi Arabia. She had been arrested in 2009, they say, because people were paying her to heal them–not a capital offense in Saudi Arabia by the way. I searched the Internet to see if any of her kinsmen objected to her execution but the entire first page of search results was American commentary. I finally found a site with videos of past atrocities in Mulsim countries, including Iran and Iraq. I watched two separate groups of men stone women who were buried in the ground up to their chest. I watched another group of men lash a woman while bystanders laughed. I watched two young men cut the throat of a teenaged boy. I saw a man tortured in public.

They say the prophet Muhammed was a nomad, but I’m afraid I don’t know what that means any more. How can I say that nomadism is the foundation of the truest sort of society when the Arabs had a great desert culture and yet they bully and brutalize their own people? Or when Iran kept a large nomadic population perhaps longer than any other country?  This is not the time to write about nomadism. This is a time to mourn.

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