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Emet m'Tsiyon

Monday, March 20, 2006

Slaves from Darfur around 1850, Nothing New Under the Sun

Darfur, the western region of Sudan, inhabited by Black tribes islamized but not arabized, was in the news a good deal about a year or two ago. Massacres and enslavement were going on there and the international community, the UN, the USA, the UK, etc., was much concerned. The situation has not changed in the past year or two, but Darfur is no longer a focus of attention. Yet, what is going on now is not much different from what went on in Darfur 200 years ago, albeit the weapons are more potent. Otherwise, nothing new under the sun.

Monsignor Mislin, well-connected at the Vatican, wrote a 3 vol. book on Christian holy places in the Ottoman Empire around 1851. Writing about his experiences living in the Ottoman Empire, he talks about the slave trade.
". . . while visiting the island of Mytilene, I fell by chance in the midst of a slave market [in the first half of the 19th century]: there were about 350. . . more shipments were being awaited. I questioned these unfortunates; they came from Darfur. . . " They were both girls and boys. [p 104 fn 4; Mgr. Mislin, Les Saints Lieux: Pelerinage a Jerusalem, 3 vols. (2nd ed., Paris: Le Coffre et Cie, 1858; first ed. in 1851)
". . . en visitant l'Ile de Mytilene, je tombai par hasard au milieu d'un marche d'esclaves: Il y en avait 350. . . On attendait d'autres cargaisons encore. J'interrogeai ces malheureux; ils venaient du Darfour . . ."
So Darfur was a source of slaves for the Muslim lands in the 19th century. Today, natives of Darfur are again being taken as slaves by Muslims. The name Dar Fur, by the way, is Arabic for House of Fur, referring to the Fur tribe.

Mgr Mislin at the time of writing was the abbott of the Monastery of St. Mary Deg in Hungary, secret chamberlain of Pope Pius IX, canon of the Cathedral of Grosswardein, member of several academies. His book was endorsed by several Vatican personalities, including Pius IX and Joseph, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the Guardian of the Holy Land and the Holy Sepulcher, etc.
Mytilene is an island off the southwestern coast of Anatolia [Asia Minor], known in ancient times and likewise today as part of modern Greece, as Lesbos, near Samos. The town of Mytilene is capital of the island. When Greece became independent about 1830, Lesbos, then called Mytilene after the town, remained under Ottoman control. Lesbos became part of the modern Greek state in 1913.

The slave trade from Black Africa to Ottoman ports on the Mediterranean went from Black Africa to Fezzan in southern Libya to Benghazi and Tripoli on the coast, as well as through the Sudan of today to Alexandria, as described by Bernard Lewis in his book, Race and Slavery in the Middle East (Oxford: Oxford Univ Press, 1990). Lewis supplies a quote from a "Tunisian traveler who visited Darfur at the beginning of the nineteenth century":
Certain rich people living in the town have installed these blacks [from the neighboring mountains -BL] on their farms to have them reproduce, and. . . every year, sell those of their children that are ready for this. . . some of them. . . own five or six hundred male and female slaves, and merchants come to them at all times, to buy male and female slaves. . ."[p 73]
From these Mediterranean ports, slaves were sold to Ottoman territories in Europe and Asia. They were also brought from East African ports to the Hijaz [western Arabia near Mecca, itself a major slave trading center, conveniently located at the center of Muslim pilgrimage], from where they were sometimes shipped on. If it's any consolation to anyone, the Muslims were equal opportunity enslavers. The Muslim Tartars ruling over the northern shore of the Black Sea, now Ukraine, had long raided for white-skinned slaves in Ukraine, Belarus, southern Russia, and southeastern Poland, also shipping the slaves to Constantinople and other Ottoman slave markets. The slave trade from the northern Black Sea coast dried up after Russia annexed the Crimea in 1783, following several victories over the Tartars and Ottomans. When that source of supply of slaves tapered off, market demand was redirected towards Black Africa. Jeremy Bentham, the famous British philosopher, registered his trip on an Ottoman cargo ship carrying slaves in 1785, in the general vicinity of Mytilene. Lewis writes: "Bentham. . . sailed from Izmir to Istanbul on a Turkish" boat in November 1785. He "noted in his diary":
Our crew consists of 15 men besides the Captain: we have 24 passengers on deck, all Turks; besides 18 young Negresses (slaves) under the hatches. [Lewis, p 59]
Lewis quotes another British traveler in 1834, some fifty years later, who was on Crete, a Greek island that remained in Ottoman hands until the end of the 19th century [see our earlier posts] :
. . . in the principal towns [on Crete] there are slaves in the families of every gentleman. The price of labour is everywhere very high, the difficulty of obtaining labourers in many cases amounting to an absolute impossibility, and the markets of Khania and Megalo-Kastron [Cretan cities] are as regularly furnished with human flesh as they are with bullocks, the supply of both being chiefly drawn from the same place, Benghazi. [quoted in Lewis, p 132 n. 4]
The Swiss traveler JL Burckhardt reported that Darfur was a source of slaves for the Ottoman Empire:
Two years ago, Mohammed Aly Pasha [Muhammad Ali, semi-independent ruler of Egypt, see earlier posts on this blog] caused two hundred young Darfour slaves to be mutilated [castrated], whom he sent as a present to the Grand Signor [the Ottoman sultan]. [Burckhardt, Travels in Nubia, London 1819; quoted in Lewis, p 76]
Today again Darfur is in the news on account of massacres and renewed enslavement of the inhabitants, who are mainly Muslims, but not Arabized, still identifying with their original African tribes. Yet the amount of attention given to Darfur events by supposed universalistic "human rights" and "civil rights" agencies is minimal, while most of those press agencies, newspapers, and broadcasters that find so much time to vilify Israel with Arab-invented atrocity hoaxes [Muhammad al-Dura's "killing"; the "Jenin massacre"] have little time for African victims of the Arabs. Sudan is of course a member state of the Arab League, along with Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates [including Dubai], and the Palestinian Authority.
- - - - - - - -
Coming: the BBC and the Holocaust, Jews in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel before Zionism, poems of Zion, the Barbary pirates as warriors for the Islamic state, etc.


  • General Gordon tried to suppress slavery in Sudan and specifically Darfur:


    - without much success, I think. Lytton Strachey (not the most reliable commentator perhaps) said:

    "Though Suleiman had been killed and his power broken, the slave-trade still flourished in the Sudan. Gordon’s efforts to suppress it resembled the palliatives of an empiric treating the superficial symptoms of some profound constitutional disease. The root of the malady lay in the slave-markets of Cairo and Constantinople: the supply followed the demand."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:52 PM  

  • Dear Anon, I got some of my info about slavery in Sudan from Brockelmann's History of the Islamic Peoples. Try that book

    By Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon, at 12:44 AM  

  • Anon,
    Brockelmann talks in some detail about the Mahdi and his quest for concubines

    By Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon, at 11:54 AM  

  • Dear Anon,

    Two can play this game. Some of the most important slave traders in the world, both in the Middle East and Europe were JEWISH.

    Also, you might want to read up on the Falasha Jews and their slaves to balance your view of the human comedy in the horn of Africa.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:48 PM  

  • Anon no. 2:
    You seem to think you're a great expert on these matters. So can you give names of Jews who were "some of the most important slave traders"?? Can you try to stick to the last one thousand years and not go back to King Solomon? I would be interested to see what you come up with. Let me know your sources for your claims about the Falashas too.

    By Blogger Eliyahu m'Tsiyon, at 9:08 PM  

  • Sure Anon, no problem.

    Read the book titled I believe"History of the jews by Paul Johnson about the role of Jews in the Slave trade in the New World.

    As for the falashas, as you live in Israel, please ask them if they parents and grandparents owned slaves (barias in Amharic). Their answer will suprise you.

    In Europe, it is a know fact that you will need to read about in a European history book of your choice, that Catholics used to raid the slavic pagan countries for white slaves. The Catholics would sell them to Jewish traders who would sell them to Arabs and Turks. This is an example of exempelary interfaith cooperation LOL.

    How is that for comedy?

    With all the claims of Arabs selling and buying Africans made by Europeans, the arab middle east should have been completely black.

    One other history you might want to find out about is what happened to the falashas in the hands of black African Ethiopian rulers. Thousands of jews were sold by African Christians to the Roman- Greek Christian empire (if they did not kill them). Ironically it was the African Muslims that were allied with Jews against Christian enslavers. We were not bitter enemies in history-only now due to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:36 PM  

  • Every other community is starting to hang together like a cool and calm collective compared to the ever more creepy muslims. I take particular offence at the islamist potential murderers just jailed in London calling nightclubbers 'slags'. They meant of course, the dreaded others who live fully in the 21st century.

    I took in the peculiar sight of a muslim man last Friday, his prayer/cursing the Infidel day. Bearded and in white night-shirt billowing somewhat over short socks and sandals, he looked conspicuously silly (and quite vulgar, like a surgeon who had mislaid his trousers).

    We can learn to laugh at these deluded people purposefully polarising themselves, aided, for instance, by the new rash of muslim apostate satirical blogs. Meanwhile, we also need to monitor them firmly, rebuffing vacuous claims of islamophobia and continue educating ourselves with blogs of this quality.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:13 PM  

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