History of Slavery


Slavery was known in the very first civilizations such as Sumer in Mesopotamia which dates back as far as 3500 BC, as well as in almost every other civilization. The Byzantine–Ottoman wars and the Ottoman wars in Europe resulted in the taking of large numbers of Christian slaves. Slavery became common within much of Europe during the Dark Ages and it continued into the Middle Ages. The Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British, Arabs and a number of West African kingdoms played a prominent role in the Atlantic slave trade, especially after 1600. David P. Forsythe wrote: "The fact remained that at the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom." Denmark-Norway was the first European country to ban the slave trade in 1802.

Although slavery is no longer legal anywhere in the world (with the exception of penal labour), human trafficking remains an international problem and an estimated 25-40 million people are enslaved today. During the 1983–2005 Second Sudanese Civil War people were taken into slavery. Although Slavery in Mauritania was criminalized in August 2007, in Mauritania it is estimated that up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population, are currently enslaved,

The Barbary slave trade refers to the slave markets that flourished on the Barbary Coast of North Africa, which included the Ottoman provinces of Algeria, Tunisia and Tripolitania and the independent sultanate of Morocco, between the 16th and middle of the 18th century. The Ottoman provinces in North Africa were nominally under Ottoman suzerainty, but in reality they were mostly autonomous. The North African slave markets were part of the Arab slave trade.

The Barbary Coast

European slaves were acquired by Barbary pirates in slave raids on ships and by raids on coastal towns from Italy to the Netherlands, as far north as Iceland and east into the Mediterranean.

The Ottoman eastern Mediterranean was the scene of intense piracy. As late as the 18th century, piracy continued to be a "consistent threat to maritime traffic in the Aegean".

For centuries, large vessels on the Mediterranean relied on galley slaves supplied by North African and Ottoman slave traders.

Davis estimates that 1 million to 1.25 million white Christian Europeans were enslaved in North Africa, from the beginning of the 16th century to the middle of the 18th, by slave traders from Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli alone (these numbers do not include the European people which were enslaved by Morocco and by other raiders and traders of the Mediterranean Seacoast), and roughly 700 Americans were held captive in this region as slaves between 1785 and 1815.

The slave trade had existed in North Africa since antiquity, with a supply of African slaves arriving through trans-Saharan trade routes. The towns on the North African coast were recorded in Roman times for their slave markets, and this trend continued into the medieval age. The Barbary Coast increased in influence in the 15th century, when the Ottoman Empire took over as rulers of the area. Coupled with this was an influx of Sephardi Jews and Moorish refugees, newly expelled from Spain after the Reconquista.

Arab slave trade

The Arab slave trade was the practice of slavery in the Arab world, mainly in Western Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, Southeast Africa and Europe. This barter occurred chiefly between the medieval era and the early 20th century. The trade was conducted through slave markets in these areas, with the slaves captured mostly from Africa's interior. Islamists believe that Christians are fair game per the Quo'ran.

The Arab slave trade, across the Sahara desert and across the Indian Ocean, began after Muslim Arab and Swahili traders won control of the Swahili Coast and sea routes during the 9th century. These traders captured Bantu peoples (Zanj) from the interior in present-day Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania and brought them to the coast. There, the slaves gradually assimilated in the rural areas, particularly on the Unguja and Pemba islands.
As many as 17 million people were sold into slavery on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, and North Africa, and approximately 5 million African slaves were bought by Muslim slave traders and taken from Africa across the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Sahara desert between 1500 and 1900.
The captives were sold throughout the Middle East. This trade accelerated as superior ships led to more trade and greater demand for labor on plantations in the region. Eventually, tens of thousands of captives were being taken every year.
The Indian Ocean slave trade was multi-directional and changed over time. To meet the demand for menial labor, Bantu slaves bought by Arab slave traders from southeastern Africa were sold in cumulatively large numbers over the centuries to customers in Egypt, Arabia, the Persian Gulf, India, European colonies in the Far East, the Indian Ocean islands, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Slave labor in East Africa was drawn from the Zanj, Bantu peoples that lived along the East African coast. The Zanj were for centuries shipped as slaves by Arab traders to all the countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs recruited many Zanj slaves as soldiers and, as early as 696, there were slave revolts of the Zanj against their Arab enslavers in Iraq (see Zanj Rebellion). Ancient Chinese texts also mention ambassadors from Java presenting the Chinese emperor with two Seng Chi (Zanj) slaves as gifts, and Seng Chi slaves reaching China from the Hindu kingdom of Srivijaya in Java.

The Zanj Rebellion, a series of uprisings that took place between 869 and 883 AD near the city of Basra (also known as Basara), situated in present-day Iraq, is believed to have involved enslaved Zanj that had originally been captured from the African Great Lakes region and areas further south in East Africa. It grew to involve over 500,000 slaves and free men who were imported from across the Muslim empire and claimed over "tens of thousands of lives in lower Iraq". The Zanj who were taken as slaves to the Middle East were often used in strenuous agricultural work. As the plantation economy boomed and the Arabs became richer, agriculture and other manual labor work was thought to be demeaning. The resulting labor shortage led to an increased slave market.
It is certain that large numbers of slaves were exported from eastern Africa; the best evidence for this is the magnitude of the Zanj revolt in Iraq in the 9th century, though not all of the slaves involved were Zanj. There is little evidence of what part of eastern Africa the Zanj came from, for the name is here evidently used in its general sense, rather than to designate the particular stretch of the coast, from about 3°N. to 5°S., to which the name was also applied.
The Zanj were needed to take care of:
the Tigris-Euphrates delta, which had become abandoned marshland as a result of peasant migration and repeated flooding, could be reclaimed through intensive labor. Wealthy proprietors "had received extensive grants of tidal land on the condition that they would make it arable." Sugar cane was prominent among the products of their plantations, particularly in Khuzestan Province. Zanj also worked the salt mines of Mesopotamia, especially around Basra.
Their jobs were to clear away the nitrous topsoil that made the land arable. The working conditions were also considered to be extremely harsh and miserable. Many other people were imported into the region, besides Zanj.

Muslims also enslaved Europeans. According to Robert Davis, between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured between the 16th and 19th centuries by Barbary corsairs, who were vassals of the Ottoman Empire, and sold as slaves. These slaves were captured mainly from seaside villages from Italy, Spain, Portugal and also from more distant places like France or England, the Netherlands, Ireland and even Iceland. They were also taken from ships stopped by the pirates.
The effects of these attacks were devastating: France, England, and Spain each lost thousands of ships. Long stretches of the Spanish and Italian coasts were almost completely abandoned by their inhabitants, because of frequent pirate attacks. Pirate raids discouraged settlement along the coast until the 19th century.
Periodic Muslim raiding expeditions were sent from Islamic Iberia to ravage the Christian Iberian kingdoms, bringing back slaves. In a raid against Lisbon in 1189, for example, the Almohad Berber Muslim caliph, Abu Yusuf Yaqub al-Mansur, took 3,000 female and child captives, while his governor of Córdoba, in a subsequent attack upon Silves in 1191, took 3,000 Christian slaves.
The subject merges with the Oriental slave trade, which followed two main routes in the Middle Ages:
Overland routes across the Maghreb and Mashriq deserts (Trans-Saharan route)
Sea routes to the east of Africa through the Red Sea and Indian Ocean (Oriental route)
The Arab slave trade originated before Islam and lasted more than a millennium. To meet the demand for plantation labor, these captured Zanj slaves were shipped to the Arabian peninsula and the Near East, among other areas.


Morocco Today

Street Life

Homeless children and child slaves 
A child dangles on a rope strung to the top of a six-meter high bulwark of cement that keeps Casablanca port free of its poor. For Omar, a street-child aged ten, the rope is a lifeline. Over the ramparts, scores of tankers hold the promise of stowing away to Europe. 

Dozens of children climb the rope every night to flee the misery of street-life in Morocco. In a country where the king has 23 palaces, the child charity, Bayti, Arabic for home, estimates more than 10,000 children in Casablanca alone are now homeless. Until recently, all were male. Now girls stalk the street with the gangs - a motley crew of abandoned children, runaway child maids, and the rejects of broken homes. Children as young as six live a life on the run from police hunting for children to dump in borstals run by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. 

The lucky find refuge in the fishing harbor, a safe haven from police round-ups. Sleeping on the roofs of makeshift huts, or under the counters of the fish market, at night the foul smell of 'solution', or glue, competes with that of rotten sardine. Children stumble like drunks at the quayside, sniffing sobs laced in glue. Morocco - better known for its tourist-luring beaches and medieval sites - is hardly alone in facing the problem. It is estimated that in Africa as a whole, two in five children under 15 are working. And around the world the total is likely to be some 250 million. But in few Muslim countries has urbanisation reaped such a toll on traditional family values. 

'Parents are raising their children for sale. They send them to work in the towns, and never see them except to collect their pay-packets'
Slave Trade
The neglect of Morocco's street-children is just the tip of the iceberg of Morocco's child crisis. Across the kingdom, I encountered dozens of children treated as commodities, just as the slave trade of old.

'Parents are raising their children for sale,'
 says Bashir Nzaggi, news editor with the respected Moroccan newspaper, Liberation. 'They send them to work in the towns, and never see them except to collect their pay-packets.' 

According to a recent government survey, 2.5 million children aged under 15 drop out of school, and more than half a million work. Many pursue the tradition of toil in the fields. But in exchange of $30 a month, tens of thousands of parents are now contracting their children to urban families to work as domestic servants in conditions of near slavery. Dealers earn up to $200 per child. It's so institutionalized that kitchens are still designed with low counters for child-maids to wash and cut vegetables. 
'Millions of Moroccans live in regions where state services fail to reach'
Social Services
Social Services Social workers say most parents regret the loss of their children, but argue they had little choice. Millions of Moroccans live in regions where state services fail to reach. 

There are no accurate figures for the numbers of child maids, but social acceptance ensures the practice is widespread. Non-Governmental Organization's say the state must regulate the trade, ensure children and parents receive 'security guarantees' from their employers, and perform regular inspections. 'In Morocco, a home is considered a castle,' says Najjat Majid, the founder of Bayti. 'We have no right to enter homes, even when we know maids are being abused.' Sixty per cent of the children in her refuge, she says, are victims of sexual abuse. Under Morocco's strict Islamic family law, the state treats pregnant child-maids as the accused. Abortion is illegal, and single mothers giving birth in hospital are reported to the police. 

Overseas Trade
As the numbers of child slaves grow, so does the clandestine trade. A mere eight miles from Europe in Tangiers, brokers direct the cross-water traffic. Children are dispatched to climb onto the chassis of trucks loaded with hashish for southern Spain. Minors are preferable - if they're caught they're harder to prosecute than adults. Moroccan immigration officers say each year they uncover children frozen to death in refrigerated lorries.

But the organization is not just at ports. Across Morocco, cottage industries seek to cut costs by replacing adults with child workers. Shoe-shining seven year-olds hire their shoe-shine boxes from Fagin-types for seven dirhams [70 cents] a day. And prostitution is often a step-up from penury. The US State department report says there are tens of thousands of child prostitutes in Morocco, serving the cities and military barracks.

Sex Trade
Increasingly, Morocco's reputation for child sex is luring an international clientele. Sex tourists from the West tout the old slave markets of Marrakech to buy sex with children. But now an export market has also begun to emerge. Last year, police in a market town in the plains north of Marrakech, bust a network trafficking in 13-year old boys destined for brothels in Italy. Police arrested the dealer, who had - said reports - paid parents $3,000 per child. 

'We are determined to pursue a course of progress and development for all Moroccans, in particular the poor,' King Mohammed VI promised his people in his first speech on the throne. Crowds hailed the young monarch as 'king of the poor'. But after a year on the throne, the problem has only got worse. His prime minister, the leftist leader Abderrahmane Youssifi, was elected on a ticket of social reform, but has failed to change the law where vagrancy is treated as a crime, not a social disease. And the credibility of both king and his prime minister are suffering, as they fail to protect the very communities they promised to save.