Iraq + 100 underscores an issue beyond America’s blind spot when it comes to international speculative fiction: the relative dearth of sci-fi being written in Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world. “The failure of Arab writers to produce futuristic fiction has been a mystery,” wrote the critic Al-Mustafa Najjar in a 2014 article titled “Arabic Fiction Faces Up to the Future.” He went on to note: “The Arab intellectual and political scene, blighted with much repression and censorship, makes for an ideal environment to write about the future, a realm void of the political and religious taboos of the past and the present.
In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up 1,500 Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the 500 best specimens to load onto ships. Of those 500, 200 died en route.
Too many of the slaves died in captivity. And so Columbus, desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.
Natural supplies have run out in the indigenous town of San Felipe Ecatepec in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico, meaning people must walk for two hours to fetch drinking water, one former local official said.
A nearby bottling plant, run by Mexican company FEMSA, consumed 1.08 million litres of water a day in 2016, according to reports.
Although Chiapas has the highest level of renewable water resources per capita in Mexico, one in three people in rural regions reportedly lack safe drinking water. Climate change and outbreaks of salmonella have exacerbated the problem.
Like many things these days, I’m finding it harder to justify why I do or consume the things I do. In this case, Coca-Cola. I really enjoyed having one every few days in Mauritania to mix up the massive amounts of water and coffee. But ignorance is bliss and I’ve learned too much.
One of the first things you notice, once your eyes adjust to the light, is that there are no pews in the church. Instead the ground is covered in green pine needles and the ceiling has great swaths of cloth hung from side to side. The edge of the main area of the church is lined with statues of saints whose images are rather different to that you would see in most Catholic churches. These saints are adorned with unusual ornaments like pineapples and flowers and their clothes were often covered in mirrors, which are believed by Chamulans to deflect the evil sprits.
A fascinating read about the unique Iglesia de San Juan Chamula and its religious syncretism, found nowhere else in the world. When we talked to one of the guides inside the church yesterday, he said no one has tried to come back and reconvert them to orthodox catholic belief. “We just want to live and worship in peace.”
This empathy, a gift so precious, it is like river water to parched lips, softens the clay of hard, dry hearts and makes pliant what was once unmoved. Prayers which may have been uttered without feeling or mindfulness are wrought from the gut in shuddering sobs. Remembrance of The Ever-Present Lord comes more frequently now, flanked by love and sadness. Submission to what is good, opposition to what is evil, patience through what is difficult, gratefulness for what is present, hope for what is promised, and fortitude during what is devastating, is, like coral and pearls, fathomed at last in the deep fathoms of this sad love.