Black Lives Don’t Matter In The Islamic World
As the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT) geared up to face the Netherlands in a friendly on Friday, their anthem jackets were emboldened with a message: Black Lives Matter (BLM).
“We wear Black Lives Matter to affirm human decency,” members of the team said in a statement posted on social media ahead of the game. “We protest against racial injustice and police brutality against Black people. We protest against the racist infrastructures that do not provide equal opportunity for Black and brown people to fulfill their dreams, including playing on this team.”
While BLM, under the pretension of fighting racism and discrimination, has tended to take on the international defense of black people, it continues to remain silent on how Africans continue to be enslaved in the Islamic world. In fact, it is rampant in these Muslim-dominated African countries, but no one, least of all BLM, is talking about it.
Black slavery in today’s Islamic world
Today, an estimated 529,000 to 869,000 black men, women and children are still slaves. Such are the statistics presented by Charles Jacobs, President of the American Anti-Slavery Group. They are bought, owned, sold, and traded by Arab and Muslim masters in five African countries, especially in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Sudan.
Western human rights organizations, the mainstream media, politicians and Church officials are hypocritically silent on this matter. In countries, such as:
- Sudan — slavery remains a painful vestige of the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005). That is when the Arab Muslim government in the north of the country declared a jihad upon the black, largely Christian south. They killed perhaps 2.5 million people and enslaved as many as 200,000. Slaves rescued by grassroots abolitionists tell horrific stories: abduction, beatings, forced conversion to Islam, grueling labor, female genital mutilation, malnutrition, and rape.
- Algeria — Sub-Saharan Africans fleeing violence and poverty for Europe are enslaved by Algerian and Libyan Arabs as they try to cross the Mediterranean. Today, according to the Global Slavery Index, around 106,000 black Africans are estimated to be enslaved. Migrant women, but also children (both male and female), risk being forced into sexual slavery; men perform unskilled labor. Those who avoid slavery are also subjected to virulent Arab racism, as confirmed by a 2019 New York Times report.
- Libya — since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, Muslim smugglers have taken numerous Africans as slaves. According to the International Organisation for Migration, West African migrants who are seeking to escape repression are captured, bought, and sold in garages and car parks. There have been reports from Libya about organized slave markets and a few years ago, a case of slavery was uncovered in Tanzania, according to Lodhi. “A mine was found in a remote area where 50 to 60 boys were forced to work. They were not paid and lived in a camp guarded by armed men.”
- Nigeria — the long-running civil war between the Muslim majority and the 40% Christian minority involves the enslavement of Christian Nigerians, which has become a source of compensation for Islamic fighters. The most infamous incident of a slave raid was Boko Haram’s abduction of 276 Christian schoolgirls in 2014. In 2019, men and boys are also captured for physical labor and sexual exploitation. Just a few days ago, police raided an Islamic school in Katsina State — the northwestern home state of President Muhammadu Buhari — and freed nearly seventy men and boys. Lawal Ahmad, a 33-year-old man who was held captive, said he witnessed sexual assault, beatings and the death of other captives during his two years there.
Click below to hear account of an escaped slave from Sudan
Historical Roots in Islam
Slavery is deeply embedded in Islamic law and tradition:
- “And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess.” — Sura 4, 24
- A man decided that a slave of his would be manumitted after his death and later on he was in need of money, so the Prophet took the slave and said, “Who will buy this slave from me?” Nu’aim bin ‘Abdullah bought him for such and such price and the Prophet gave him the slave. — Sahih al-Bukahri 34, 351
The Prophet Muhammad, during the course of installing a tripartite paradigm of Islamic slavery via his military campaigns and raids against the inhabitants of Arabia, enslaved many of the Semitic peoples of the region. The prerequisite for being enslaved in Islam, whether it was for domestic labor or sexual exploitation, was not based on race, as it was with the trans-Atlantic slave trade between the New World and West Africa, but on being a non-Muslim war captive. It is estimated that between 650 and 1900, a minimum of eighteen million Africans had been enslaved by Arab slave traders; over one million Europeans were equally subjugated by the Muslim world during the same period.
From the beginning of the Islamic era, slavers had been staging raids against the coastal tribes of equatorial East Africa. When the Sultanate of Zanzibar was established in the ninth century, the raids shifted inland to present-day Kenya and Uganda. Slaves were taken from as far south as Mozambique and as far north as Sudan.
Many slaves went to the mines and plantations of the Middle East, but many more went to Muslim territories in India and Java. These slaves were used as a kind of international currency, with up to hundreds of them being given as gifts to Chinese diplomatic parties. As Muslim power expanded, Arab slavers spread to North Africa and found a very lucrative trade waiting for them in the Mediterranean. Male African slaves were favored for heavy-duty work in salt mines and on sugar plantations. Older men and women cleaned streets and scrubbed floors in wealthy households. Boys and girls alike were kept as sexual property.
Islamic expert Raymond Ibrahim states that slavery is, of course, as old as humanity. Athenians, Spartans and Romans were fully engaged in the slave trade. With the coming of Christianity, and as it spread all throughout the Roman and post-Roman empire (c. 4th to 7th centuries), the institution of slavery faded away in Europe.
Then Islam came. While hardly the first to exploit human flesh, it was the best at perfecting and thriving on it in the post classical, medieval, premodern, and even modern eras — with untold millions of non-Muslims enslaved throughout the centuries.
The tell all of this ongoing tragedy is that while the mainstream media, neo-conservative and left-wing politicians and revisionists continue to chide the crimes of slavery, specifically in America, they should not just take a look that it continues to exist in various Muslim countries but that it is also justified by their religious tenets. As for Black Lives Matter and those sustaining their demands, black lives obviously do not matter in the Islamic world.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University.
Sources not cited may be found in my book Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.