A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, March 11, 2013

Racing into Modernity: Saudis Consider Firing Squads Due to Lack of Swordsmen

Saudi Arabia needs more headsmen. No, not headmen, but headsmen. The kind with swords who separate you from your head. You may have already seen this New York Times story, dated yesterday, which notes:
A special inter-ministerial committee has recommended that “because of the scarcity of swordsmen and their unavailability in a number of regions” the princes who govern Saudi provinces should be free to use firing squads, according to a statement from the committee, reported in Saudi newspapers on Sunday.
The few officially authorized swordsmen were so busy traveling between different regions to conduct executions that they sometimes arrived late, “which causes security confusion” complicated by “the resulting spreading of rumors through modern technology,” the statement noted.
I'm not sure what "security confusion" means exactly in this context of a headsman being late for a beheading, but I'm sure there'll be some in the clerical establishment who will find those new-fangled bullets unacceptable.

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