Before Sudan split into two countries, Sudan and South Sudan, the Muslim Arabs in the north for decades would routinely raid the villages of black Africans, both Christians and Muslims, in the south. The worst atrocities were conducted by the Arab militias known as the Janjaweed, who carried on a campaign against black Africans in the region of Darfur, burning down villages, stealing cattle, raping women, and killing men. Not a single Arab state condemned the Janjaweed or offered to send troops to protect the black Africans. The United States was alone in condemning the Janjaweed killings as genocide in October 2007, since in the three previous years, an estimated 200,00-400,000 civilians had been killed by the Janjaweed.
The South Sudan gained independence in 2011, after a referendum on self-determination in which its people voted overwhelmingly to secede from Sudan. Independence was the culmination of a long armed struggle waged by South Sudanese, starting in the mid 1950s. During those years of fighting, the northern Arabs enslaved tens of thousands of the black Africans they took prisoner. Even today there are thousands of blacks still enslaved in Sudan by Arab masters.
The Arab slave trade in Africa began centuries before, and lasted centuries after, the Atlantic Slave Trade. And it claimed many more victims: studies suggest there were 12 million Africans taken in the Atlantic Slave Trade, while the Arabs seized 17 million Africans for transfer to the slave entrepots of the Middle East. Slavery in the Islamic world was finally stamped out not by the Muslims themselves, but by the pressure from Western powers. For in Islam, slavery was always regarded as acceptable. For Muhammad himself, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) and the Model of Conduct (uswa hasana), bought, sold, and owned slaves. So slavery was, thanks to his excellent example, a practice Muslims accepted. There never was a Muslim William Wilberforce. Great Britain in the 19th century ended, thanks to the Royal Navy, the Arab slave trade in Africa, but the millions of slaves already in the Muslim lands remained. Then the two main European powers, France and Great Britain, beginning in the late 19th century to stamp out, in most of North Africa and the Middle East, the practice of slavery. Several Arab countries held out. It was not until 1962 that Saudi Arabia and Yemen officially ended slavery, and unofficially, the practice continued for some years after 1962 in the interior of Saudi Arabia. Slavery was ended in Oman in 1970, and finally, the last country to outlaw it was Mauritania, in 1981. But Arabs, or people who claimed to be Arabs because they were “less black” than black Africans, continue to enslave to this day black Africans in Mauritania (600,000), in Mali (200,000), in Niger (43,000), and in Sudan (15,000).
The latest manifestation of the Arab racism that undergirded the slave trade is again on view in North Africa, where Arab leaders have suddenly spread the alarm about the black Africans in their midst who, they claim, are engaged in the “Great Replacement” of the native Arabs. The “Great Replacement,” of course, is what Europeans term their own demographic defeat at the hands of Muslims who have arrived in Europe, mainly from North Africa but also from the Middle East and Pakistan, by the millions, battening on the benefits offered by the generous welfare states of Western Europe. The Europeans now realize that through both continued Muslim immigration, mostly illegal, and very high fertility rates among Muslim women in Europe, the Muslim percentage of the population throughout Europe is steadily, inexorably increasing. The French writer Renaud Camus was the first to call this the “Great Replacement,” and the term has been taken up by France’s most famous writer, Michel Houllebecq — who fears that the “Great Replacement” is too far along to be stopped — and by its most famous journalist and once-and-future presidential candidate, Eric Zemmour. As the French and other Europeans worry, with reason, about this “Great Replacement,” the term has been taken up by Arabs in North Africa, who have far less reason to be anxious about “demographic replacement” than do the Europeans. There are not millions of black Africans, but only tens of thousnds, in each of the four countries — Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia — that make up North Africa. Egypt is traditionally regarded as part of the Middle East, rather than as part of the Maghreb.
On February 21, the Tunisian president Kais Saied (pictured above) denounced what he said was a “plot to transform the demographic makeup of the country” and called for strict measures to prevent it from succeeding. Since then, black Africans in Tunisia have been living in fear, and many, who have neither passports nor money, have been trying to leave the country. The Tunisian police have begun raiding the shabby dormitories of the Africans, throwing them out on the street. The police have taken to visiting the farms and construction sites where some of the Africans find employment at pitiful wages; the police round them up and take them away, warning employers not to re-employ them.
The current xenophobia directed at Africans in the Maghreb is rooted in Arab racism. That racism goes back to the earliest centuries of Islam. With slavery having been sanctioned by the example of Muhammad, Muslim Arab slavers entered east Africa to seize black Africans, the men to be workers, the women to be domestic servants and sex slaves, and the young boys to serve as eunuchs in the harems of the Islamic world. These boys were castrated in situ, with many dying during the painful surgery or during the long march, in slave coffles, to the coast, where the Africans would be taken by dhows from Pemba, across the Red Sea, to Arabia and the slave markets of Islam.
David Livingston, the celebrated explorer, and missionary, described encountering some of the victims of the Arab slavers. He was deeply upset by the way the Arabs treated their African slaves that he wrote back home in 1870:
In less time than I take to talk about it, these unfortunate creatures [the Africans]— 84 of them, wended their way into the village where we were. Some of them, the eldest, were women from 20 to 22 years of age, and there were youths from 18 to 19, but the large majority was made up of boys and girls from 7 years to 14 or 15 years of age.
A more terrible scene than these men, women and children, I do not think I ever came across. To say that they were emaciated would not give you an idea of what human beings can undergo under certain circumstances.
Each of them had his neck in a large forked stick, weighing from 30 to 40 pounds, and five or six feet long, cut with a fork at the end of it where the branches of a tree spread out.
The women were tethered with bark thongs, which are, of all things, the most cruel to be tied with. Of course they are soft and supple when first stripped off the trees, but a few hours in the sun make them about as hard as the iron round packing-cases. The little children were fastened by thongs to their mothers.
As we passed along the path which these slaves had travelled, I was shown a spot in the bushes where a poor woman the day before, unable to keep on the march, and likely to hinder it, was cut down by the axe of one of these slave drivers.
We went on further and were shown a p lace where a child lay. It had been recently born, and its mother was unable to carry it from debility and exhaustion; so the slave trader had taken this little infant by its feet and dashed its brains out against one of the trees and thrown it in there.
By the ninth century, there were enough black slaves in Iraq to mount a serious slave revolt, the Zanj Rebellion, which lasted for fifteen years before being put down. The black African slaves known as the Zanj had been put to backbreaking work draining the salt marshes of Basra. Some were worked to death. Savagely mistreated, they rose in revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate in 868, a revolt that was not extinguished until 883, when mass executions of the remaining rebels took place.
The Arabs regarded the black Africans with contempt. In the Hadith of al-Bukhari, we find the remarkable statement that “Anyone who says that the Prophet is black should be killed.” Elsewhere in the Hadith Muhammad says “’Whoever wants to see Satan let him take a look at Nabtal b. al-Harith!’ He was a sturdy black man with long flowing hair, inflamed eyes, and dark ruddy cheeks.”
In the same vein, the Prophet sent Khalid bin al-Walid in Ramadan 8 A.H., to a spot called Nakhlah, “where there was a goddess called Al-‘Uzza venerated by the Quraish and Kinanah . . . On his return, the Prophet asked him if he had seen anything there, to which Khalid gave a negative answer . . . He went back again and there he saw a black woman, naked with torn hair. Khalid struck her with his sword into two parts. He returned and narrated the story to the Prophet, who then confirmed the fulfillment of the task.”
Sa’d bin Zaid Al-Ashhali, another follower of Muhammad, was sent in the same month and on the same mission to Al-Mushallal to destroy an idol, Manat, respected by both the Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes. Here also a black woman, naked with messy hair appeared, wailing and beating on her chest. Sa’d immediately killed her.
Clearly Muhammad was not at all bothered by these two unprovoked murders by his followers of “black women.” He greeted the news from one of the killers as being part of the “fulfillment of his task” – the task assigned to him by Muhammad.
There are three hadith in Al-Bukhari where Muslims are told to obey a ruler, even if he were a black man, as here: “Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle said, ‘You should listen to and obey, your ruler even if he was an Ethiopian (black) slave whose head looks like a raisin.’” (Ibn Musa al-Yahsubi, Qadi ‘Iyad, p.375).
And there is this from the celebrated historian Al-Tabari: “Noah prayed that the hair of Ham’s descendants [Africans] would not grow beyond their ears, and that whenever his [Ham’s] descendants met Shem’s, the latter would enslave them.” (Al-Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 21, p. 21)
Why was it so terrible for the Prophet to be called “black”? Because for the Arabs, blacks were unquestionably inferior. Such misidentification, according to Ahmad ibn Abi Sulayman, was an insult to the Prophet, and deserved death. And blacks, as descendants of Ham, were fit only to be slaves (Shem’s descendants “would enslave them”).
Many of the most famous Arab writers and Islamic scholars were unambiguously “racists” in the full meaning of that word.
Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) was, among other things, an Islamic jurist, Islamic lawyer, Islamic scholar, Islamic theologian, and hafiz (one who has memorized the entire Qur’an). He is one of the most important figures in Islamic history. Here are two disparaging remarks, among so many that he makes about black Africans in his Muqaddimah:
Therefore, the Negro nation are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because [Negroes] have little [that is essentially] human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated.”
Beyond [known peoples of black West Africa] to the south there is no civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational beings. They live in thickets and caves, and eat herbs and unprepared grain. They frequently eat each other. They cannot be considered human beings.
Ibn Sina or Avicenna (980-1037), was another celebrated figure in Islamic history: a Hafiz, an Islamic psychologist, scholar, and theologian and, by our lights, a racist: “[Blacks are] people who are by their very nature slaves.”
Ibn Qutaybah (828-889), was a renowned Islamic scholar from Kufa, Iraq: “[Blacks] are ugly and misshapen, because they live in a hot country.”
Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī (1201-1274), was a Shia Muslim Scholar and Grand Ayatollah:
If (all types of men) are taken, from the first, and one placed after another, like the Negro from Zanzibar, in the Southern-most countries, the Negro does not differ from an animal in anything except the fact that his hands have been lifted from the earth – In no other peculiarity or property – except for what God wished. Many have seen that the ape is more capable of being trained than the Negro, and more intelligent.
[The Zanj (African) differ from animals only in that] their two hands are lifted above the ground,… Many have observed that the ape is more teachable and more intelligent than the Zanj.
Al-Muqaddasi (945/946-1000) was a medieval Muslim geographer:
Of the neighbors of the Bujja, Al-Muqaddasi had heard that “there is no marriage among them; the child does not know his father, and they eat people — but God knows best. As for the Zanj, they are people of black color, flat noses, kinky hair, and little understanding or intelligence.” [Kitab al-Bad’ wah-tarikh, vol.4]
Al-Masudi (896-956), was a Muslim historian and geographer, known as the “Herodotus of the Arabs”:
“Galen says that merriment dominates the black man because of his defective brain, whence also the weakness of his intelligence.” (Al-Masudi, Muruj al-dhahab)
Ibn al-Faqih was a Muslim historian and geographer:
“A man of discernment said: The people of Iraq … do not come out with something between blonde, buff and blanched coloring, such as the infants dropped from the wombs of the women of the Slavs and others of similar light complexion; nor are they overdone in the womb until they are burned, so that the child comes out something between black, murky, malodorous, stinking, and crinkly-haired, with uneven limbs, deficient minds, and depraved passions, such as the Zanj, the Somali, and other blacks who resemble them. The Iraqis are neither half-baked dough nor burned crust but between the two.” (from his Mukhtasar Kitab al-Buldan, 903 AD)
These are just a tiny sample of the hair-raising racist remarks made by noted figures in Islamic intellectual history.
Given that racist disparagement of blacks that runs through the Hadith, it’s not surprising that Arabs today are determined to keep them out of, or expel them from, North Africa. Now the fear of being overrun by blacks has gone from Tunisia westward to Libya and Algeria. Black Africans who came to Libya in order to take a boat to Europe, but lacked the money to pay the smugglers, have ended up stranded in the country. They have taken the most difficult menial jobs with the lowest pay, barely enough to survive. In Libya, some black Africans, when unable to pay debts they owed to Arabs, have been put up for sale at informal slave markets that have sprung up in the country. This should be a major story in the Western media, but so far none of the important news outlets have bothered to cover it.
In Algeria, both the police and the army have been rounding up black Africans at their dormitories or wherever they work or simply hang out, and have been taking them out into the desert, and leaving them just over the border in Niger, where the border guards have been instructed not to let them back into Algeria. Whether they live or die in Niger is of no concern to the Algerians. Like the Arabs of Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco, the Arabs of Algeria refer to the black Africans as “abid” – “slaves” – and address individual blacks not by name but simply as “abd.”
But Tunisia remains the center of the anti-black hysteria. The “Nationalist Party” has been filling the airwaves and the social media with rants about black Africans, whipping up hatred. When President Saied warned in virulent terms about the demographic conquest by Africans of his country, he was furthering a discourse that had already begun over the last year, but his speech has been viewed as the launching pad for a new struggle against African immigration, with arrests, expulsions from lodging, loss of jobs, and unprovoked attacks by gangs of Tunisian Arabs on black Africans Now some of those black Africans have managed to be repatriated to their countries of origin, including Mali, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, and Guinea. Others have been planting themselves in front of the Tunisian offices of the International Organization For Migrations (OIM), in a vain hope for obtaining that organization’s aid. And some Africans have decided to try their luck sooner than they had planned, paying as best they can the human traffickers – also Arabs – to take them across the Mediterranean in rickety little boats, many of which have capsized and their passengers drowned. Every day brings news of fresh drownings, and boats that never made it to the port on Lampedusa. But the black Africans are desperate.
The racist attacks, both verbal and physical, against black Africans continue to increase across North Africa, but especially in Tunisia, where President Saied appeared to give such behavior his stamp of approval. Tunisians have been gleefully joining in the hunt for Africans, who have realized they have no future in the country. They are now attempting either to make it back home, which means somehow safely crossing the desert to the countries of West Africa where most of them come from, or to cross the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats to Lampedusa in Italy, before being arrested and then expelled by being brought to the border and left on the other side, in Niger or Chad, to fend for themselves in the inhospitable desert.
None of these attacks by North African Arabs on black Africans have attracted the notice of the Western media outside of France; not a single story about the matter has yet appeared on the national news programs in the U.S. Is that because a story that makes the Arabs look bad could help Israel, and that will never do?