mercredi 30 juillet 2008

Arab Muslim stave trade

“What do expect, the Arabs used to sell us during the era of the slave trade, now they buy us.”one Africa diplomat comment.

Slavery and bondage still persist in the 21st century. An estimated 27 million people around the globe suffer in situations of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation from which they cannot free themselves. Trafficking in people has become increasingly transnational in scope and highly lucrative. After illegal drug sales and arms trafficking, human trafficking is today the third most profitable criminal activity in the world, generating $31 billion annually. As many as half of all those trafficked worldwide for sex and domestic slavery are children under 18 years of age.

Many societies worldwide possess oral histories and long memories, reaching back many centuries, particularly of wars and events of great trauma. The pre-colonial history of Southern Sudan is usely forgotten: it is a region that, according to some, "has no history." The region's largest ethnic group today, the Dinka, from their original homelands in the central Sudanese Gezira between the Blue and White Niles, in the fourteenth century, moved into their more recently adopted homelands in Southern Sudan. Early pre-colonial stresses play a critical role in modern-day South Sudan, in what has since become the world's longest civil war, fought externally against the fundamentalist Islamic Northern Sudanese government as well as internally within the South itself.
Despite damning reports from humanitarian organisations of continuing slavery and the continuing use of cruel punishments such as whipping and amputation, the Sudanese government slipped through the net for the first time, thereby resulting in the end of the mandate of the special UN rapporteur for Sudan.

The massacres in Darfur are an open wound for Sudan, and one which the government does not want anyone to touch.
The misery, the poverty, the long demographic stagnation and the current developmental delays of the black continent, are not merely the consequences of the transatlantic slave trade, as many imagine. The transatlantic drain is well known and has been debated for decades. Studies and syntheses on this slave trade are legion. And yet, even though one cannot speak of degrees of horror or a monopoly on cruelty, it is possible to declare that the Negro slave trade and the wars provoked by the Arab-Muslims were, for black Africa through the centuries, much more devastating than the transatlantic trade. Likewise the Islamization of many Negro-African peoples and all that it engendered, such as jihad, were no less the source of innumerable implosions. But to this day, only the genocide of black peoples by the Arab-Muslim nations has not been clearly acknowledged by those who research the responsible parties. Even though this crime is historically, juridically and morally forbidden.

Arab muslim slave trade history
Its begun in the 7th century A.D., the Arabs, having conquered Egypt, proceeded to enslave numerous peoples of Nubia, Somalia, Mozambique, and elsewhere, during the first Islamic expansion. The Nubians had been harshly dealt with in the fierce attacks by Arab forces. They defended themselves courageously, but faced with superior numbers and the determination of the soldiers of the jihad and the repeated assaults by Arab jihadists, the Nubians preferred to negotiate peace, concluding in 652 the treaty known as Bakht. This treaty committed the vanquished African monarch to turn over annually a supply of 360 captives to become slaves in the Arab-Muslim world. Thus it was that a large-scale Negro slave trade was for the first time invented by Arab-Muslims. The term Arab-Muslim means that after the Bakht, this trade became trans-Saharan and Eastern, implicating more and more peoples and regions and extending far beyond the Arab world. The traders who took part were also Berbers from the Maghreb, Turks of the Ottoman Empire and Iranians, hence Persians. Many African captives were sold by the Arabs as far away as India, since the king of Bengal possessed about 8000 slaves in the 15th century. The majority of men deported at the start of this trade came from the population of Darfur. It all began there, and apparently it has never ceased.

In the Arab world - the Wahhabi system (Saudi Arabia) for example - did not favor economic and social development through the hard work of its inhabitants. It condemned them to an endless need for servile labor furnished by the Negro trade. Moreover, for an Arab of those times, a man is never poor so long as his neighbor possesses something. The Holy War came in handy, if you wanted to become rich. Since every believer had the obligation to lead a jihad, they said, it was imperative to subject and enslave the non-converted. They took the Koran abusively as a pretext to stage raids on their infidel neighbors, stripping them of all they possessed. And so it was that with a clear conscience and using methods that were convenient as well as blessed, most of these converted Arab tribes ended up not living from their own resources. Thus the permanence of the plague of the Negro slave trade and of Arab-Muslim slavery in Africa was due to the traditions of these peoples dating from a time when they could not, out of debauchery and laziness, do without servile men to infuse strength and new blood into them. For example, in the middle of the 19th century, one third of the population of Oman was African or of African origin. In Arab societies, Africans played a central role. They had no specific function but they took part in a great many common activities.

There were first sudden raids and massacres followed by terrible and massive castrations . For example, in the Holy War led by that Sudanese Arab chieftain, a mystic, enlightened, who considered himself a Mahdi (descendant of the Prophet), the whole of Sudan from the ocean to Egypt, taking in all the plateaux of Africa - from the Nile to the Zambezi - was subject to manhunts and the sale of captives. This space was twice the size of Europe, and certain explorers estimated its population to be around 100 million in the the 19th century. To have an idea of the evil, you must realize that these same observers stated that to hunt down and carry off 500,000 individuals, it was necessary to kill almost two million others (who resisted or tried to flee). So if births had ceased at the time, then, in less than a half-century, the interior of Africa would be nothing but a desolate wasteland today.

It must be stated that the disdain of the Arabs towards Africans was a catalyst for this unprecedented enterprise with a desire to annihilate the African Negro populations. The famous Arab historian of the 14th century, Ibn-Khaldum, wrote: "The only people who accept slavery are the Negroes, because of an inferior degree of humanity, their place being closer to the level of animals." The question then was: how to see to it that these "animals" did not reproduce in Arab-Muslim lands. For from the outset of the slave trade, the traders wanted to prevent them from becoming rooted. Since there was nothing metaphysical about it, castration appeared to be a practical solution. And so, in this effort to abase human beings, if the Arabs sent most black women to harems, they mutilated the men, using rudimentary procedures that caused a terrifying mortality. The figures on this slave trade are quite simply harrowing. (...)

About the current situation in Darfur, there is a Stockholm syndrome African-style:
Very numerous are those who would like to see the Arab-Muslim slave trade forever veiled in oblivion, often in the name of a certain religious, or even ideological solidarity. It is in fact a virtual pact signed and sealed between the descendants of the victims and those of the executioners, that leads to this denial. Because in this sort of "Stockholm syndrome African-style," all of these fine people agree to place everything on the shoulders of the West. The selective silence surrounding the Arab-Muslim crimes against black peoples and this effort to minimize it, so as to better point the projectors solely at the transatlantic trade, is a cement being used to bring about a fusion of Arabs and Negro-African peoples - who have long been " fellow victims" of Western colonialism. That Arab-Muslim writers and other intellectuals attempt to make even the simplest memory of this infamy disappear, as if it had never existed, is easily understood.

On the other hand, what is harder to grasp is the attitude of many researchers, and even of African Americans who are converting more and more to Islam. This attitude is not always healthy and is strongly influenced by a sort of self-censorship. As if evoking the slave trading past of Arab-Muslims is in some way tantamount to minimizing the transatlantic trade.

Thierry Menard

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