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Thanks to Universe Freedom for helping me out with the above translation.
An Interview with Tidiane N´Diaye - Translated by Galliawatch
In May 2001 the French Parliament passed a law that came to be called Taubira's Law after its sponsor, Christiane Taubira, the socialist deputy from Guiana. I posted an English translation of the law in May 2006. The first part of the law qualifies both slavery and the transatlantic and Indian Ocean slave trades as crimes against humanity, but does not mention the Arab-Muslim slave trade. Madame Taubira is quoted as having said in 2006 that the Negro slave trade practiced by Arab-Muslims must not be brought up too often so that "young Arabs do not bear on their shoulders all the weight of the heritage of Arab misdeeds."
Now a book published in France by Gallimard, entitled Le Génocide Voilé ("Veiled Genocide"), exposes the cover-up of the Arab-Muslim slave trade, denounces the attempt to place all of the blame for slavery on the backs of Western countries, and goes so far as to qualify the atrocities committed by Arabs to Africans as "genocide."
The author is Tidiane N'Diaye (photo), a Senegalese Muslim, anthropologist, economist, and researcher at INSEE (National Institute of Economic Studies). The following interview with the author is posted at Evene.
Le Génocide Voilé is an inquiry into the Arab-Muslim slave trade. Why should we be interested in this subject today?
Because 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.
When did it begin and in what region(s)?
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. I use the term Arab-Muslim because 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.
What were the specific forms and motivations of this slave trade compared with the transatlantic trade?
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.
You speak of massive castration...
Before the terrible castrations there were first sudden raids and massacres. 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.
You also speak of genocide. Do you think there was a desire to annihilate the African Negro populations?
I do indeed find the word "genocide" suitable for this unprecedented enterprise. It must be stated that the disdain of the Arabs towards Africans was also a catalyst. 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. (...)
In the second part of the interview, of which I will quote one excerpt only, he discusses critically the work of Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, who also exposed the Arab-Muslim slave trade. He comments on the current situation in Darfur and reveals the truth about Zulu hero Chaka Zulu. His most interesting remarks deal with what he sees as the 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. (...)