Slave markets found on Instagram and other apps

By Owen Pinnell & Jess Kelly

BBC News Arabic

31 October 2019

Drive around the streets of Kuwait and you won't see these women. They are behind closed doors, deprived of their basic rights, unable to leave and at risk of being sold to the highest bidder.

But pick up a smartphone and you can scroll through thousands of their pictures, categorised by race, and available to buy for a few thousand dollars.

An undercover investigation by BBC News Arabic has found that domestic workers are being illegally bought and sold online in a booming black market.

Some of the trade has been carried out on Facebook-owned Instagram, where posts have been promoted via algorithm-boosted hashtags, and sales negotiated via private messages.

Other listings have been promoted in apps approved and provided by Google Play and Apple's App Store, as well as the e-commerce platforms' own websites. 

"What they are doing is promoting an online slave market," said Urmila Bhoola, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.

"If Google, Apple, Facebook or any other companies are hosting apps like these, they have to be held accountable."

After being alerted to the issue, Facebook said it had banned one of the hashtags involved.

Google and Apple said they were working with app developers to prevent illegal activity.

The illegal sales are a clear breach of the US tech firms' rules for app developers and users. 

However, the BBC has found there are many related listings still active on Instagram, and other apps available via Apple and Google.

Slave market

Nine out of 10 Kuwaiti homes have a domestic worker - they come from some of the poorest parts of the world to the Gulf, aiming to make enough money to support their family at home.

Posing as a couple newly arrived in Kuwait, the BBC Arabic undercover team spoke to 57 app users and visited more than a dozen people who were trying to sell them their domestic worker via a popular commodity app called 4Sale. 

The sellers almost all advocated confiscating the women's passports, confining them to the house, denying them any time off and giving them little or no access to a phone.

The 4Sale app allowed you to filter by race, with different price brackets clearly on offer, according to category. 

"African worker, clean and smiley," said one listing. Another: "Nepalese who dares to ask for a day off."

When speaking to the sellers, the undercover team frequently heard racist language. "Indians are the dirtiest," said one, describing a woman being advertised. 

Human rights violated

The team were urged by app users, who acted as if they were the "owners" of these women, to deny them other basic human rights, such as giving them a "day or a minute or a second" off. 

One man, a policeman, looking to offload his worker said: "Trust me she's very nice, she laughs and has a smiley face. Even if you keep her up till 5am she won't complain."

He told the BBC team how domestic workers were used as a commodity. 

"You will find someone buying a maid for 600 KD ($2,000), and selling her on for 1,000 KD ($3,300)," he said.

He suggested how the BBC team should treat her: "The passport, don't give it to her. You're her sponsor. Why would you give her her passport?"

In one case, the BBC team was offered a 16-year-old girl. It has called her Fatou to protect her real name. 

Fatou had been trafficked from Guinea in West Africa and had been employed as a domestic worker in Kuwait for six months, when the BBC discovered her. Kuwait's laws say that domestic workers must be over 21. 

Her seller's sales pitch included the facts that she had given Fatou no time off, her passport and phone had been taken away, and she had not allowed her to leave the house alone - all of which are illegal in Kuwait. 

Sponsor's permission

"This is the quintessential example of modern slavery," said Ms Bhoola. "Here we see a child being sold and traded like chattel, like a piece of property."

In most places in the Gulf, domestic workers are brought into the country by agencies and then officially registered with the government. 

Potential employers pay the agencies a fee and become the official sponsor of the domestic worker. 

Under what is known as the Kafala system, a domestic worker cannot change or quit her job, nor leave the country without her sponsor's permission.

In 2015, Kuwait introduced some of the most wide-ranging laws to help protect domestic workers. But the law was not popular with everyone. 

Apps including 4Sale and Instagram enable employers to sell the sponsorship of their domestic workers to other employers, for a profit. This bypasses the agencies, and creates an unregulated black market which leaves women more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

This online slave market is not just happening in Kuwait. 

In Saudi Arabia, the investigation found hundreds of women being sold on Haraj, another popular commodity app. There were hundreds more on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

'Real hell'

The BBC team travelled to Guinea to try to contact the family of Fatou, the child they had discovered being offered for sale in Kuwait. 

Every year hundreds of women are trafficked from here to the Gulf as domestic workers.

"Kuwait is really a hell," said one former maid, who recalled being made to sleep in the same place as cows by the woman who employed her. "Kuwaiti houses are very bad," said another. "No sleep, no food, nothing." 

Fatou was found by the Kuwaiti authorities and taken to the government-run shelter for domestic workers. Two days later she was deported back to Guinea for being a minor. 

She told the BBC about her experience working in three households during her nine months in Kuwait: "They used to shout at me and call me an animal. It hurt, it made me sad, but there was nothing I could do." 

Now she is back at school in Conakry, where the BBC visited her.

"I am so happy," she said.

"Even now, talking about it, I'm still happy. My life is better now. I feel like I'm coming back from slavery."

Hashtag removed

The Kuwaiti government says it is "at war with this kind of behaviour" and insisted the apps would be "heavily scrutinised". 

To date, no significant action has been taken against the platforms. And there has not been any legal action against the woman who tried to sell Fatou. The seller has not responded to the BBC's request for comment.

Since the BBC team contacted the apps and tech companies about their findings, 4Sale has removed the domestic worker section of its platform.

Facebook said it had banned the Arabic hashtag "خادمات للتنازل#" - which translates as "#maidsfortransfer".

"We will continue to work with law enforcement, expert organisations and industry to prevent this behaviour on our platforms," added a Facebook spokesman.

There was no comment from the Saudi commodity app, Haraj.

Google said it was "deeply troubled by the allegations".

"We have asked BBC to share additional details so we can conduct a more in-depth investigation," it added. "We are working to ensure that the app developers put in place the necessary safeguards to prevent individuals from conducting this activity on their online marketplaces."

Apple said it "strictly prohibited" the promotion of human trafficking and child exploitation in apps made available on its marketplace.

"App developers are responsible for policing the user-generated content on their platforms," it said.

"We work with developers to take immediate corrective actions whenever we find any issues and, in extreme cases, we will remove the app from the Store. 

"We also work with developers to report any illegalities to local law enforcement authorities."

The firms continue to distribute the 4Sale and Haraj apps, however, on the basis that their primary purpose is to sell legitimate goods and services.

4Sale may have tackled the problem, but at the time of publication, hundreds of domestic workers were still being traded on Haraj, Instagram and other apps which the BBC has seen.



Son of Guinea's first president charged with forced labor in Texas

By Laura Koran and Laura Jarrett, CNN
April 27, 2018

Washington (CNN) A Texas couple with deep political connections in the West African country of Guinea was charged Thursday with forced labor after a young woman they allegedly enslaved for more than 16 years managed to escape their home in Southlake with help from neighbors.

Mohamed Toure and Denise Cros-Toure, both 57, allegedly brought the victim from Guinea to Texas in 2000, when she was just 5 years old. She has not been named.

They allegedly then forced the girl to do housework and care for their children, subjecting her to emotional and physical abuse, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

"Although the victim was close in age to the children, the defendants denied her access to schooling and the other opportunities afforded to their children," the department alleges.

The couple originally hail from Guinea, where Mohamed Toure is an influential figure and son of Guinea's first President, Ahmed Sekou Toure.

The younger Toure was also a leader of the political opposition party in Guinea, although he has no diplomatic immunity or status, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Following his father's death in 1984, Mohamed Toure was imprisoned along with other members of his family, according to the authors of Historical Dictionary of Guinea. He was later exiled to Morocco and Ivory Coast before settling in Texas with his wife and children.

He later returned to Guinea, where he was named secretary general of his father's old political party.

Now, Toure and his wife face up to 20 years in prison on the forced labor charge.

"As part of their coercive scheme to compel the victim's labor, the defendants took her documents and caused her to remain unlawfully in the United States after her visa expired," the Justice Department alleges in its press release. "They further isolated her from her family and others and emotionally and physically abused her."

In the criminal complaint against the Toure, the lead investigator alleges that the victim -- referred to only as Female Victim 1 or FV-1 -- was forced to sleep on the floor for years, and was only taken to see a medical professional once.

The complaint also alleges disturbing incidents of physical abuse by Cros-Toure, who allegedly beat the victim, sometimes with a belt or electrical cord. In one incident, the victim alleged an earring was pulled out of her ear by Cros-Toure with such force that it tore her earlobe, leaving a visible scar.

The victim allegedly was also frequently yelled at or kicked out of the house without money, identification, or the ability to communicate in English.

On one occasion, the victim was discovered in a park by a police officer and returned to the Toure family as a suspected runaway.

"Eventually, in August 2016, the victim escaped the defendants with the help of several former neighbors," the release also alleges.

In a statement to CNN on Friday, Scott Palmer, the attorney representing Denise Cros-Toure, said the complaint was "riddled with salacious allegations, fabrications, and lies."

"The subject was considered a member of the family and treated like a daughter by Denise Cros-Toure and Mohamed Toure," said Palmer. "The kids considered her part of the family and each of them had chores and responsibilities like every family."

Palmer insists the victim was well treated, and lived a normal life.

"We look forward to amassing a mountain of evidence to refute the government's portrayal of our clients, and look forward to revealing the motivation of this woman to lie, betray, and attempt to destroy the family that took her in at the request of her father for a better life in the United States," the statement adds.

The case was investigated by the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service, which is often involved in criminal cases that have an international dimension.



Migrants trying to reach Europe via North Africa are being sold at modern-day slave auctions by smugglers in Libya for as little as $400, a new investigation has revealed.

Along the Libyan coast, smugglers have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars putting migrants on the perilous journey to Europe on rickety boats across the Mediterranean Sea. Now they are being sold off to buyers for manual labor, according to CNN.

Desperate migrants make their way through sub-Saharan Africa—either west or east—to Libya, a near-failed state wracked by years of civil war and lawlessness, to pay substantial sums to traffickers in hope of a new life on European shores.

According to the investigation, cell phone footage showed African men being sold, offered as one of the “big, strong boys for farm work.”

In the Libyan capital of Tripoli, an auction was witnessed for a man whose price rose from 500 dollars to $650. Some were sold for just $400, less than half the median weekly earnings of an American worker.

“Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big, strong man, he’ll dig,” an auctioneer said. “What am I bid, what am I bid?”

This situation has arisen because of the European and Libyan crackdown on smuggler vessels—meaning that those who arrive in Libya have no boats on which to leave, and the smugglers have nowhere to send the migrants.

Instead, the traffickers are attempting make money from migrants’ desperation.

Libyan authorities in the city say they have knowledge of the smuggling operations in the country, but not slave auctions. “They fill a boat with 100 people, those people may or may not make it,” First Lieutenant Naser Hazam of the Libyan government’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency told CNN.

“[The smuggler] does not care as long as he gets the money, and the migrant may get to Europe or die at sea.”

Previous investigations by Newsweek have shown that smugglers, particularly in the coastal town of Zuwara, drew in hundreds of migrants from across Africa, from Egypt, Sudan, and Niger, using social media.

In 2015, the smugglers brazenly used Facebook accounts and charts of the range of prices for their services.

For instance, a trip from Sudan to Libya and on to Italy would cost two migrants, a mother and her daughter, around $3,500: $1,500 for the crossing and the rest for the transport from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

Social media companies have clamped down on the recruiting, and the business now operates more on word of mouth.

In 2016, there were at least 5,079 fatalities or missing cases of people who tried to make the Mediterranean crossings to Europe.

US warned Mauritania’s ‘total failure’ on slavery should rule out trade benefits

US labour unions cite Mauritania’s unwillingness to act on slavery as Trump administration is urged to deny country duty-free exports

The Guardian

August 25, 2017

The routine abuse of thousands of enslaved Mauritanians, including rape, beatings and unpaid labour, should prevent the African republic from receiving US trade benefits, American labour unions have said.

Mauritania, which has one of the highest rates of modern-day slavery in the world and has been roundly criticised for its poor human rights record, is currently on a list of countries that benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). The act, designed to promote the economic development of countries that can show they uphold human rights and meet labour standards, enables African countries to export goods duty-free to US markets.

The US trade union AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, this week called on the US trade representative to remove Mauritania from the roster of approved countries.

“The government of Mauritania routinely fails to conduct investigations into cases of slavery, rarely pursues prosecutions for those responsible for the practice and fails to ensure access to remedy or otherwise support victims,” the union wrote in a petition, adding that the state harasses and imprisons anti-slavery activists and will not publicly acknowledge the continued existence of slavery.

“This represents a total failure to take any meaningful steps to establish freedom from forced labour,” said the petition.

Mauritania abolished slavery in 1981, the last country in the world to do so, but only made it a crime in 2007. Since then, campaigners say the government has passed a handful of inefficient reforms and failed to properly address the issue.

Although the union says it is unlikely the US will immediately remove Mauritania from the Agoa list, Celeste Drake, trade and globalisation policy specialist at the AFL-CIO, said the petition should “put Mauritania on watch”.

The petition adds to the mounting pressure facing the Mauritanian government. In June, the International Labor Organisation (ILO) warned that slavery continues “on a widespread basis, despite numerous discussions”. For the past three years, the country has been under review by the ILO over its failure to act.

Last year, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights concluded that Tadamoun, the agency set up to address the consequences of slavery and poverty in Mauritania, had taken “a very low profile” in tackling the problem.

Jeroen Beirnaert, human and trade union rights coordinator at the International Trade Union Confederation, which has supported the petition, said the government had done little to enforce its anti-slavery law. Beirnaert said there had been only two known slavery convictions, with the sentences handed out too lenient.

“It took decades to actually have a conviction let alone compensation for any victims,” he said. “One issue we have with the agency [Tadamoun] is that it doesn’t involve any of the former slaves. It’s run by the white Moor community there, and it focuses a lot on a poverty alleviation mandate and doesn’t really address the slavery issues.”

Sarah Mathewson, Africa programme manager at Anti-Slavery International, said the Mauritanian government is sensitive to criticism and that further bad publicity won’t be welcomed. “They do seem to take initiatives and actions against slavery and forced labour practices in response to [negative] publicity,” she said. “They’ll set up a commission or a new government agency or introduce a new law or policy.”

Mathewson added that such initiatives are never serious attempts to tackle the issue, but “window dressing” that distracts the international community.

The government is balancing demands for reform with the need to retain its grip on power, she said: “They also have to balance the pressures of their own power base and the social and economic privileges that slave ownership entails for them, and how intrinsically linked it is to their own hold on power.”

ISIS’s “Science” of Slavery: How ISIS Justifies Enslavement of Yezidi Women with Islam

By Morocco World News - June 26, 2017

Slavery, possibly one of the worst human horrors occurring on this earth at this time. In 2014, ISIS invaded the small town of Sinjar in Northern Iraq and began to carry out what has now been described as genocide against the Yezidi people. Thousands of young women and girls were dragged off to be sold as sex slaves in markets. 

Yezidi women who have returned from captivity have described a system of organized rape and sexual assault, sexual slavery and forced marriage. Guidelines for slavery have been established and they have repeatedly used a narrow and selective interpretation of the Quran to justify their barbarous acts of sexual violence.

According to Amnesty International, it is estimated that there are still as many as 3 800 girls being held as slaves by ISIS.

In a small makeshift IDP camp in the centre of Erbil Bese Qawal, Hana Xwededa and Fayza Haji, three Yezidi women who fled their homes in Sinjar when the violence with ISIS began to unfold. They had spent over a year living with another small group of Yezidi’s in a few ramshackle buildings with little certainty as to what the future would hold. As they sat in their small home they quietly described the horror that forced them to flee, ‘When the first assaults started, ISIS tried to stop us from fleeing. They wanted to kill the men and take the women. They tried to capture us but we managed to escape into the mountains. They burned our home, we came here with nothing,’ said Qawal as she leaned back against the wall. All three women sat somberly in the room as small children darted in and out.

‘They wanted to take the women as slaves. Our family is safe but we know some of the girls who were captured. They are selling girls as young as 8 or 9 years old in markets.’

When asked why they believed that ISIS was targeting the Yezidis, Qawal looked at the ground and replied quietly, ‘by god I don’t know. We are poor people.’

The Yezidi’s have been persecuted by the surrounding Muslim communities for many centuries. A minority in the region the Yezidis constitute only 1.5 percent of Iraq’s estimated population of 34 million. Of Kurdish descent, the Yezidis are generally considered to be a pre Islamic sect with an oral tradition as opposed to written scripture, though there are several ideas as to where the Yezidi culture originated.

For ISIS this makes them unbelievers of the worst kind, more so than Christians and Jews who are considered to have some limited protections according to their descriptions in Quran as ‘people of the book.’

It is for this reason, that ISIS has proclaimed their right to enslave Yezidi women.

ISIS considers their rules of enslavement as a ‘science that has been almost absent in modern Islamic jurisprudence,’ or what is known as fiqh. The word figh is an Arabic term meaning ‘full understanding’ and refers to the body of Islamic law extracted from detailed Islamic sources.

In a pamphlet released by ISIS, they highlight the need to practice this ‘science’ throughout the Islamic Caliphate, which they seek to establish throughout the world.

This pamphlet, through its questions and answers, uses interpretations of the Quran, as defined by various Sunni Islamic scholars to justify their acts of slavery. These scholars, using interpretations as defined by the exegesis, use the term ‘right hand possession’ as meaning ‘female slave’.

Some of the questions and answers of the pamphlet are as follows,

Question 3: Can all unbelieving women be taken captive?

There is no dispute among the scholars that it is permissible to take such women who are characterized by original unbelief such as the women from among People of the Book ie Jews and Christians.

Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?

Allah the almighty said, ‘successful are the believers who guard their chastity, except from their wives or the captives and slaves, that their right hands posses for then they are free from blame (Koran 23:5-6).

Note: the words “captives and slaves” don’t exist in the original version of Quran

Question 6: Is it permissible to sell a female captive?

It is permissible to buy, sell or give as a gift female captives and slaves for they are merely property.

The literal interpretation in Arabic of the term ‘right hand’ means any promise or commitment that must be observed and respected. So the term, ‘right hands possession’ semantically means the obligation to fulfill promises. This could be relevant to different contexts, particularly those regarding social commitments such as caring for orphans, marriage, and recently, this term was referred to in relation to surrogacy. In the Quran, both men and women are called to respect what their right hands possess.

However, when the word ‘possession’ is added, ISIS interprets this as female slave.

Through this traditional interpretation of Quran, ISIS has publically and officially sanctioned their use of slavery and rape. The ‘right hands possession,’ means for them that ‘religiously’ they can have sex with ‘unbelieving’ women, virgins and young girls, captured during war even if it is outside the institution of marriage. They consider this as a reward for their war efforts and is a motivator for soldiers to fight.

According to Human Rights Watch, ISIS policy of slavery disregards almost every universal law against slavery and rape.

For Hazna Qary, a young Yezidi woman who managed to escape ISIS’s invading forces and is now living in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Erbil, life is difficult knowing what has happened to other Yezidi women. ‘We know that they are being raped everyday, that they are being given as gifts to each other,’ she says quietly.

‘I pray to god every day to get justice, they could burn our houses and take everything but they should not take our daughters,’ says Sari Ali, another Yezidi woman living within the camp.

In Lalish, the spiritual centre for the Yazidi people not far from Mosul, Luckman, a Yezidi man explained how young girls had also been victims of ISIS policy of slavery,

‘One 11 year old girl said that 20 men had sex with her in one night,’ he told us quietly.

It is believed in the Islamic tradition that the Prophet Mohammed married Aicha when she was 9 years old. There are a number of Islamic scholars who have argued that Aisha would have been at least 18 years old when she married the prophet. However, within the Islamic world there are still those who justify child marriage, including ISIS.

Question 13 of the pamphlet released by ISIS asks, is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?

The pamphlet answers

It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse however if she is not fit for intercourse then it is enough to enjoy her with out intercourse.

The brutality of war and the crimes that all women have endured at the hands of ISIS, are shocking. As we sit here, there are women and young girls, like your mother, like your daughter, like your wife, like your sister, who are being sold, tortured and raped, just because they are women of the ‘wrong’ faith.

As a global community, it is essential that we work together to speak out. All women and girls deserve to be respected and be free from threats of violence, intimidation and slavery, regardless of their cultural or religious beliefs. We must speak out, encourage our governments to take action because if we don’t, our silence makes us complicit in the incredible suffering being perpetrated against Yezidi women, and in fact all women and girls who are victims of slavery throughout the world.

When asked what she wants for her future Hazna Qary says, ‘I would just like to be safe.’

African migrants sold in Libya 'slave markets', IOM says

11 April 2017

Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

Victims told IOM that after being detained by people smugglers or militia groups, they were taken to town squares or car parks to be sold.

Migrants with skills like painting or tiling would fetch higher prices, the head of the IOM in Libya told the BBC.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 Nato-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Hundreds of young sub-Saharan African men have been caught up in the so-called slave markets, according to the IOM report.

A Senegalese migrant, who was not named to protect his identity, said that he had been sold at one such market in the southern Libyan city of Sabha, before being taken to a makeshift prison where more than 100 migrants were being held hostage.

He said that migrants held at the facility were told to call their families, who would be asked for money to pay for their release, and some were beaten while on the phone to allow relatives to hear them being tortured.

He described “dreadful” conditions where migrants were forced to survive on limited food supplies, with those unable to pay either killed or left to starve, the report adds.

Another witness, who was able to raise the funds needed for his release after nine months, was later taken to hospital with severe malnutrition, weighing just 5.5 stone (35 kg).

Women, too, were bought by private Libyan clients and brought to homes where they were forced to be sex slaves, the witness said.

The IOM's chief of mission for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, told the BBC that those sold into slavery found themselves priced according to their abilities.

"Apparently they don't have money and their families cannot pay the ransom, so they are being sold to get at least a minimum benefit from that," he said.

"The price is definitely different depending on your qualifications, for example if you can do painting or tiles or some specialised work then the price gets higher."

An IOM staff member in Niger said they confirmed the reports of auctions in Libya with several other migrants who had escaped.

"They all confirmed the risks of been sold as slaves in squares or garages in Sabha, either by their drivers or by locals who recruit the migrants for daily jobs in town, often in construction.

"Later, instead of paying them, [they] sell their victims to new buyers."

Some migrants, mainly Nigerians, Ghanaians and Gambians are forced to work "as guards in the ransom houses or in the 'market' itself", the IOM employee added.

The organisation has called the emergence of these markets "a disturbing new trend in the already dire situation for migrants in Libya".

In February, the UN children's agency Unicef released a report documenting - in sometimes horrific detail - stories of slavery, violence and sexual abuse experienced by large numbers of vulnerable children travelling from Libya to Italy.

The report, A Deadly Journey for Children, said that almost 26,000 children - most of them unaccompanied - crossed the Mediterranean in 2016, many of them suffering abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

Tens of thousands of migrants arrived in Italy last year by sea, crossing from North Africa. But before they reach the jumping-off point in Libya, many migrants will have undertaken a perilous journey of up to six days across the Sahara in extreme temperatures.

Navy analysis found that a Marine’s case would draw attention to Afghan ‘sex slaves’

Washington Post
September 1, 2016

Last fall, the Navy Department had a controversial disciplinary case before it: Maj. Jason C. Brezler had been asked by Marine colleagues to submit all the information he had about an influential Afghan police chief suspected of abusing children. Brezler sent a classified document in response over an unclassified Yahoo email server, and he self-reported the mistake soon after. But the Marine Corps recommended that he be discharged for mishandling classified material.

The Navy Department, which oversees the Marine Corps, had the ability to uphold or overturn the decision. However, rather than just looking at the merits of the case, Navy officials also assessed that holding new hearings on the case would renew attention on the scandal surrounding child sex abuse in Afghanistan, according to military documents newly disclosed in federal court.

The documents, filed Tuesday in a lawsuit by Brezler against the Navy Department and Marine Corps, also show that Marine and Navy officials in Afghanistan were aware in 2012 of allegations of abuse against children by the Afghan police chief but that the chief was allowed to keep his position in Helmand province anyway. This became a major issue after a teenage boy who worked for the chief — and allegedly was abused by him — opened fire on a U.S. base Aug. 10, 2012, killing three Marines and badly wounding a fourth.

The five-page legal review, written last October by Lt. Cmdr. Nicholas Kassotis for Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III, the judge advocate general of the Navy, recommended that the Marine Corps’ actions against Brezler be upheld. Calling for a new administrative review, known as a Board of Inquiry, would delay actions in the case another six to nine months and possibly increase attention on the case, “especially in the aftermath of significant media attention to the allegations regarding the practice of keeping personal sex slaves in Afghanistan,” Kassotis wrote. A month later in November, acting assistant Navy secretary Scott Lutterloh upheld the Marine Corps’ decision.

Brezler’s case has drawn new attention in recent months as critics of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton have compared her email controversy to Brezler’s, noting that the officer’s military career is on the brink of being over. He sued the Marine Corps and Navy Department in 2014, saying that he was a victim of reprisal for discussing his case with a member of Congress, and it has languished in court since. Brezler wants to block his dismissal, which is now on hold.

Navy and Marine Corps officials declined to discuss the case or the new documents filed in it, citing the pending litigation. A spokesman for the Justice Department, which is handling the lawsuit for the government, also declined to comment.

The Navy Department’s observation about Brezler’s case was made as another U.S. service member’s career was in jeopardy because of his response to alleged child sex abuse in Afghanistan. In that instance, Army Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland made headlines after the Army decided last year to involuntarily separate him from the service because of a reprimand he had received for hitting an Afghan Local Police (ALP) official in 2011 after the man laughed about kidnapping and raping a teenage boy. The Army overturned its decision in April and allowed Martland, a Green Beret, to stay in the military after Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) intervened.

The Martland case opened a dialogue in which numerous veterans of the war in Afghanistan said they were told to ignore instances of child sex abuse by their Afghan colleagues. The Defense Department’s inspector general then opened an investigation into the sexual assault reports and how they were handled by U.S. military officials who knew about them.

Brezler’s attorney, Michael J. Bowe, said Wednesday in an email that his client is entitled to a “real review” of his case — “not a whitewash designed to avoid uncomfortable press stories about child rape by our ‘partners’ in Afghanistan.

“Our service members deserve better,” he added.

A spokesman for Hunter, Joe Kasper, said that the Navy Department is “right to be worried about granting Brezler a new, impartial review of his case” because it “can’t sustain a case based on the facts and the moral imperative” that prompted Brezler to send the warning to other Marines that landed him in legal trouble.

“The Navy surely watched the Army struggle with the Martland case, and the Army was ultimately left no choice but to retain Martland,” Kasper said. “The Brezler case is no different in that, at its foundation, there’s a corrupt Afghan commander that exploits children. It’s something that Americans won’t tolerate, and good luck to the Navy as it tries to explain that Brezler was better to keep quiet, avoiding scrutiny altogether, than attempt to save several Marines that were killed. On that aspect alone, the Navy loses.”

Acting Defense Undersecretary Brian P. McKeon, said in a letter to Hunter last month that Gen. John “Mick” Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, reaffirmed in May “tactical guidance” for U.S. troops that directs them to report potential instances of sex abuse to their commanders.

“General Nicholson also issued a specific human rights policy directing further education of U.S. and coalition military personnel on their responsibilities to report human rights violations,” McKeon wrote.

The Marines killed by the police chief’s servant were Staff Sgt. Scott Dickinson, Cpl. Richard Rivera Jr. and Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley. A fourth Marine suffered five gunshot wounds but survived. The teenager who killed them has been identified by the Marine Corps as Ainuddin Khudairaham. He is said to have bragged about the attack afterward, boasting “I just did jihad.”

A 300-page, declassified copy of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) probe of Brezler’s case filed this week as part of his lawsuit said that an officer in Afghanistan, Capt. Brian Donlon, sought information about Sarwar Jan because he recalled being told that he was “a bad guy who raped and tortured the people.” The police chief and Brezler had encountered each other previously in another part of Helmand province, Now Zad district, and Brezler had helped get him removed from his job.

Donlon did not open the file Brezler attached to an email sent from the United States and reported his violation, Donlon told investigators afterward. Donlon sent an email to Brezler informing him the document he sent was classified, and then both Marines reported it to their respective commanding officers.

Marine officials have said that while Brezler did send a classified email to Donlon, he actually faced scrutiny from the Marine Corps because he had other classified documents illegally stored that he planned to use while writing a book.

Brezler’s attorney has countered that virtually no instances of inadvertently spilling classified information have led to penalties as stiff as his, and that if he had not voluntarily turned over his electronics after reporting his violation, he would not be in trouble now.

Islamic State ruling aims to settle who can have sex with female slaves

December 29, 2015

Islamic State theologians have issued an extremely detailed ruling on when "owners" of women enslaved by the extremist group can have sex with them, in an apparent bid to curb what they called violations in the treatment of captured females.

The ruling or fatwa has the force of law and appears to go beyond the Islamic State's previous known utterances on slavery, a leading Islamic State scholar said. It sheds new light on how the group is trying to reinterpret centuries-old teachings to justify the rape of women in the swaths of Syria and Iraq it controls.

The fatwa was among a huge trove of documents captured by U.S. Special Operations Forces during a raid targeting a top Islamic State official in Syria in May. Reuters has reviewed the document, which has not been previously published, but couldn't independently confirm its authenticity.

Among the fatwa's injunctions are bans on a father and son having sex with the same female slave; and the owner of a mother and daughter having sex with both. Joint owners of a female captive are similarly enjoined from intercourse because she is viewed as "part of a joint ownership."

The United Nations and human rights groups have accused the Islamic State of the systematic abduction and rape of thousands of women and girls as young as 12, especially members of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq. Many have been given to fighters as a reward or sold as sex slaves.

Far from trying to conceal the practice, Islamic State has boasted about it and established a department of "war spoils" to manage slavery. Reuters reported on the existence of the department on Monday.

In an April report, Human Rights Watch interviewed 20 female escapees who recounted how Islamic State fighters separated young women and girls from men and boys and older women. They were moved "in an organized and methodical fashion to various places in Iraq and Syria." They were then sold or given as gifts and repeatedly raped or subjected to sexual violence.


Fatwa No. 64, dated Jan. 29, 2015, and issued by Islamic State's Committee of Research and Fatwas, appears to codify sexual relations between IS fighters and their female captives for the first time, going further than a pamphlet issued by the group in 2014 on how to treat slaves.

The fatwa starts with a question: "Some of the brothers have committed violations in the matter of the treatment of the female slaves. These violations are not permitted by Sharia law because these rules have not been dealt with in ages. Are there any warnings pertaining to this matter?"

It then lists 15 injunctions, which in some instances go into explicit detail. For example:

"If the owner of a female captive, who has a daughter suitable for intercourse, has sexual relations with the latter, he is not permitted to have intercourse with her mother and she is permanently off limits to him. Should he have intercourse with her mother then he is not permitted to have intercourse with her daughter and she is to be off limits to him."

Islamic State's rape of female captives has been well documented, but a leading IS expert at Princeton University, Cole Bunzel, who has reviewed many of the group's writings, said the fatwa went beyond what has previously been published by the militants on how to treat female slaves.

"It reveals the actual concerns of IS slave owners," he said in an email.

Still, he cautioned that not "everything dealt with in the fatwa is indicative of a relevant violation. It doesn't mean father and son were necessarily sharing a girl. They're at least being 'warned' not to. But I bet some of these violations were being committed."

The fatwa also instructs owners of female slaves to "show compassion toward her, be kind to her, not humiliate her, and not assign her work she is unable to perform." An owner should also not sell her to an individual whom he knows will mistreat her.

‘I Abducted Your Girls,’ Nigerian Extremist Leader Admits

May 5, 2014

Extremist group Boko Haram's leader owned up to the April kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria and vowed to "sell them on the market." He also warned that his group plans to attack more schools and abduct more girls.

A leader of the extremist group Boko Haram takes responsibility in a newly disclosed video for the kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls last month.

“I abducted your girls,” Abubakar Shekau said in the video, obtained by Agence France-Presse. “I will sell them in the market, by Allah.”

Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, whose name translates roughly to “Western education is forbidden,” has been terrorizing northern Nigeria for years, but the kidnapping was its biggest attack yet. Shekau said in the video that the abduction had caused outrage because “because we are holding people [as] slaves.”

The girls were kidnapped in mid-April, but the government had not yet mounted an aggressive response until President Goodluck Jonathan promised Sunday to find and return the girls. “Wherever these girls are, we’ll get them out,” he said in a live TV broadcast. But a protest leader said Monday that Nigeria’s First Lady had ordered her arrest and expressed doubts that the kidnapping even happened, the Associated Press reports.


Over 28 Million Africans have been enslaved in the Muslim world during the past 14 centuries

While much has been written concerning the Transatlantic slave trade, surprisingly little attention has been given to the Islamic slave trade across the Sahara, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. While the European involvement in the Transatlantic slave trade to the Americas lasted for just over three centuries, the Arab involvement in the slave trade has lasted fourteen centuries, and in some parts of the Muslim world is still continuing to this day.


A comparison of the Muslim slave trade to the American slave trade reveals some interesting contrasts. While two out of every three slaves shipped across the Atlantic were men, the proportions were reversed in the Muslim slave trade. Two women for every man were enslaved by the Muslims.

While the mortality rate for slaves being transported across the Atlantic was as high as 10%, the percentage of slaves dying in transit in the Transsahara and East African slave trade was between 80 and 90%!

While almost all the slaves shipped across the Atlantic were for agricultural work, most of the slaves destined for the Muslim Middle East were for sexual exploitation as concubines, in harems, and for military service.

While many children were born to slaves in the Americas, and millions of their descendants are citizens in Brazil and the USA to this day, very few descendants of the slaves that ended up in the Middle East survive.

While most slaves who went to the Americas could marry and have families, most of the male slaves destined for the Middle East were castrated, and most of the children born to the women were killed at birth.

It is estimated that possibly as many as 11 million Africans were transported across the Atlantic (95% of which went to South and Central America, mainly to Portuguese, Spanish and French possessions. Only 5% of the slaves went to the United States).

Slaves in Africa - in the early 20th century.

However, at least 28 million Africans were enslaved in the Muslim Middle East. As at least 80% of those captured by Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave markets, it is believed that the death toll from the 14 centuries of Muslim slave raids into Africa could have been over 112 million. When added to the number of those sold in the slave markets, the total number of African victims of the Transsaharan and East African slave trade could be significantly higher than 140 million people.


William Wilberforce led the campaign against slavery for 59 years.

While Christian Reformers spearheaded the antislavery abolitionist movements in Europe and North America, and Great Britain mobilized her Navy, throughout most of the 19th Century, to intercept slave ships and set the captives free, there was no comparable opposition to slavery within the Muslim world.

Even after Britain outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and Europe abolished the slave trade in 1815, Muslim slave traders enslaved a further 2 million Africans. This despite vigorous British Naval activity and military intervention to limit the Muslim slave trade. By some calculations the number of victims of the 14 centuries of Muslim slave trade could exceed 180 million.

Nearly 100 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in America, and 130 years after all slaves within the British Empire were set free by parliamentary decree, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, in 1962, and Mauritania in 1980, begrudgingly removed legalized slavery from their statute books. And this only after international pressure was brought to bear. Today numerous international organizations document that slavery still continues in some Muslim countries.


Slavery long predated Christianity and many of the early Christians were slaves in the Roman Empire. Without exception, the pre-Christian world accepted slavery as normal and desirable. The Greek philosopher Aristotle claimed: "From the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule." The great civilizations of Mesopotamia, Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and all the civilizations in Central America and Africa were built upon slave labor.

People became slaves by being an insolvent debtor, or sold into slavery by their parents, or by being born to slave parents, or by being captured in war, or through kidnapping by slave raiders and pirates. Slave dealing was an accepted way of life, fully established in all societies. Most of these slaves were white people, or Europeans. In fact the very word "slave", comes from the people of Eastern Europe, the Slavs.

St. Patrick, the English missionary to the Irish, was once a slave himself, kidnapped from his home and taken to Ireland against his will. Patrick spoke out strongly against slavery. He wrote: "But it is the women kept in slavery who suffer the most."

About 80% of those captured by Muslim slave raiders died before reaching the slave markets.

The Greeks, from whom we derive so many modern, humanistic ideas, were utterly dependent on slavery. Even Plato's Republic was firmly based on slave labor. Plato said that 50 or more slaves represented the possessions of a wealthy man.

Under Roman law, when a slave owner was found murdered, all his slaves were to be executed. In one case, when a certain Pedanius Secundas was murdered, all 400 of his slaves were put to death.

Before the coming of Christ, the heathen nations despised manual work and confined it to slaves. When Christ was born, half of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves. Three quarters of the population of Athens were slaves.

Slavery was indigenous to African and Arab countries before it made its way to Europe. Slavery was widely practiced by the tribes of the American Indians long before Columbus set foot on the shores of the New World. Ethiopia had slavery until 1942, Saudi Arabia until 1962, Peru until 1968, India until 1976 and Mauritania until 1980. What is also seldom remembered is that many black Americans in the 19th Century owned slaves. For example, according to the United States census of 1830, in just the one town of Charleston, South Carolina, 407 black Americans owned slaves themselves.


But Jesus revolutionized labor. By taking up the ax, the saw, the hammer and the plane, our Lord endued labor with a new dignity. Christianity undercut slavery by giving dignity to work. By reforming work, Christianity transformed the entire social order.

Our Lord Jesus Christ began His ministry in Nazareth with these words:  "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and release to the oppressed." Luke 4:18

When the apostle Paul wrote to Philemon, concerning his escaped slave, he urged him to welcome back Onesimus "no longer as a slave, but as a dear brother as a man and as a brother in the Lord." Philemon 16.

Because of these and other Scriptural commands to love our neighbor, to be a good Samaritan and to do for others what you would want them to do for you, Christians like William Wilberforce, John Newton, William Carey, David Livingstone, Lord Shaftsbury and General Charles Gordon worked tirelessly to end the slave trade, stop child labor, and set the captives free.

From the very beginning of the Christian Church, Christians freed slaves. During the 2nd and 3rd Centuries many tens of thousands of slaves were freed by people who converted to Christ. St. Melania was said to have emancipated 8,000 slaves, St. Ovidius freed 5,000, Chromatius freed 1,400, Hermes 1,200. Many of the Christian clergy at Hippo under St. Augustine "freed their slaves as an act of piety." In AD 315, the Emperor Constantine, just two years after he issued the edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity, imposed the death penalty on those who stole children to bring them up as slaves.

The Emperor Justinian abolished all laws that prevented the freeing of slaves. St. Augustine (354 - 430) saw slavery as the product of sin and as contrary to God's Divine plan (The City of God). St. Chrysostom in the 4th Century, taught that when Christ came He annulled slavery. He proclaimed "in Christ Jesus there is no slave therefore it is not necessary to have a slave buy them, and after you have taught them some skill by which they can maintain themselves, set them free."

For centuries, throughout the Middle Ages, bishops and church councils recommended the redemption of captive slaves, and for five centuries the Trinitarian monks redeemed Christian slaves from Moorish (Muslim) servitude.

In 1102 AD, the London Church Council outlawed slavery and the slave trade. By the 12th Century slaves in Europe were rare, and by the 14th Century slavery was almost unknown on the continent of Europe.


However, with the birth of Islam came a rebirth of the slave trade. As Ronald Segal in "Islam's Black Slaves" documents: "When Islam conquered the Persian Sassanid Empire and much of the Byzantine Empire, including Syria and Egypt, in the 7th Century, it acquired immense quantities of gold stripping churches and monasteries either directly or by taxes, payable in gold, imposed on the clergy and looting gold from tombs the state encouraged the search and sanctioned the seizure, in return for a fifth of the finds."

Segal notes: "Female slaves were required in considerable numbers for musicians, singers and dancers many more were bought for domestic workers and many were in demand as concubines. The harems of rulers could be enormous. The harem of Abdal Rahman III (912 - 961) in Cordoba contained over 6,000 concubines! And the one in the Fatimid Palace in Cairo had twice as many."

An Arab slave raid in East Africa 1888.

The death toll from 14 centuries of the Muslim slave trade in Africa is estimated at over 112 million.

Islam's Black Slaves also reveals that the castration of male slaves was common place.  "The Caliph in Baghdad at the beginning of the 10th Century had 7,000 black eunuchs and 4,000 white eunuchs in his palace." It was noted that there were widespread "homosexual relations" as well. Islam's Black Slaves notes that Islamic teachers throughout the centuries consistently defended slavery: "For there must be masters and slaves." Others noted that blacks "lack self-control and steadiness of mind and they are overcome by fickleness, foolishness and ignorance. Such are the blacks who live in the extremity of the land of Ethiopia, the Nubians, Zanj and the like."

Ibn Khaldun (1332 - 1406) the preeminent Muslim medieval historian and social thinker wrote:  "The Negro nations are as a rule submissive to slavery because they have attributes that are quite similar to dumb animals."

By the Middle Ages, the Arab word "abd" was in general use to denote a black slave while the word "mamluk" referred to a white slave. Even as late as the 19th Century, it was noted that in Mecca "there are few families that do not keep slaves they all keep mistresses in common with their lawful wives." It was noted that black slaves were castrated "based on the assumption that the blacks had an ungovernable sexual appetite."

When the Fatimids came to power they slaughtered all the tens of thousands of black military slaves and raised an entirely new slave army. Some of these slaves were conscripted into the army at age ten. From Persia to Egypt to Morocco, slave armies from 30,000 to up to 250,000 became commonplace.

Even Ronald Segal, who is most sympathetic to Islam and clearly prejudiced against Christianity, admits that well over 30 million black Africans would have died at the hands of Muslim slave traders or ended up in Muslim slavery.

A dhow, the favorite slave carrying vessel of Arab slave traders.

Arab traders beat their cargo into submission on the run from the African coast to Zanzibar.

The Muslim slave trade took place across the Sahara Desert, from the coast of the Red Sea, and from East Africa across the Indian Ocean. The Transsahara trade was conducted along six major slave routes. Just in the 19th Century, for which we have more accurate records, 1.2 million slaves were brought across the Sahara into the Middle East, 450,000 down the Red Sea and 442,000 from East African coastal ports. That is a total of 2 million black slaves - just in the 1800's. At least 8 million more were calculated to have died before reaching the Muslim slave markets.

Islam's Black Slaves records:  "In the 1570's, a Frenchman visiting Egypt found many thousands of blacks on sale in Cairo on market days. In 1665 Father Antonios Gonzalis, a Spanish/Belgian traveler, reported 800 - 1,000 slaves on sale in the Cairo market on a single day. In 1796, a British traveler reported a caravan of 5,000 slaves departing from Darfur. In 1838, it was estimated that 10,000 to 12,000 slaves were arriving in Cairo each year." Just in the Arabic plantations off the East Coast of Africa, on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, there were 769,000 black slaves.

The slave market in Zanzibar sold an average of 300 slaves every day.

In the 19th Century, the East African black slave trade included 347,000 slaves shipped to Arabia, Persia and India; 95,000 slaves were shipped to the Arab plantations in the Mascareme Islands.

Segal notes "The high death rate and low birth rate among black slaves in the Middle East and the astonishingly low birth rate amongst black slave women" in North Africa and the Middle East. "Muslim civilization lagged increasingly behind the West in protecting public health. The arithmetic of the Muslim black slave trade must also not ignore the lives of those men, women and children taken or lost during the procurement, storage and transport the sale of a single captive for slavery might represent a loss of ten in the population from defenders killed in attacks on villages, the deaths of women and children from related famine and the loss of children, the old and the sick, unable to keep up with their captors or killed along the way in hostile encounters, or dying of sheer misery."

One British explorer encountered over 100 human skeletons from a slave caravan en route for Tripoli.

The explorer, Heinrich Barth, recorded that a slave caravan lost 40 slaves in the course of a single night at Benghazi.

The British explorer, Richard Lander, came across a group of 30 slaves in West Africa, all of them stricken with smallpox, all bound neck to neck with twisted strips of bullock hide.

One caravan with 3,000 proceeding from the coast in East Africa, lost two thirds of its number from starvation, disease and murder.

In the Nubian desert, one slave caravan of 2,000 slaves literally vanished as every slave died.


In 1818, Captain Lyon of the Royal Navy reported that the Al-Mukani in Tripoli "waged war on all its defenseless neighbors and annually carried off 4,000 to 5,000 slaves a piteous spectacle! These poor oppressed beings were, many of them, so exhausted as to be scarcely able to walk, their legs and feet were much swelled, and by their enormous size formed a striking contrast with their emaciated bodies. They were all borne down with loads of firewood, and even poor little children, worn to skeletons by fatigue and hardships, were obliged to bear their burden, while many of their inhuman masters with dreadful whip suspended from their waist all the traders speak of slaves as farmers do of cattle the defenseless state of the Negro kingdoms to the southward are temptations too strong to be resisted, a force is therefore annually sent to pillage these defenseless people, to carry them off as slaves, burn their towns, kill the aged and infants, destroy their crops and inflict on them every possible misery all slavery is for an unlimited time none of their owners ever moved without their whips - which were in constant use drinking too much water, bringing too little wood or falling asleep before the cooking was finished, were considered nearly capital crimes, and it was in vain for these poor creatures to plead the excuse of being tired. Nothing could withhold the application of the whip. No slaves dared to be ill or unable to walk, but when the poor sufferer dies, the master suspects that there must have been something 'wrong inside' and regrets not having liberally applied their usual remedy of burning the belly with a red-hot iron."

Arab slave traders along the Ruvuma River, East Africa, 1866, ax a straggler.

Records for Morocco in 1876 show that market prices for slaves varied from £10 ($48) to £30 ($140). Female slaves comprised the vast majority of sales with "attractive virgins" fetching between £40 to £80 ($192 - $386). It was reported that "a considerable majority of the slaves crossing the Sahara were destined to become concubines in North Africa, the Middle East and occasionally even further afield."


Segal also observed that: "White slaves from Christian Spain, Central and Eastern Europe" were also shipped into the Middle East and served in the "palaces of rulers and the establishments of the rich." He records that: "All Slavic eunuchs are castrated in that region and the operation is performed by Jewish merchants."

Muslim slave raiders kidnapped women from Europe for harems in the Middle East.

Historian Robert Davis in his book "Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters - White Slavery In the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy", estimates that North African Muslim pirates abducted and enslaved more than 1 million Europeans between 1530 and 1780. These white Christians were seized in a series of raids which depopulated coastal towns from Sicily to Cornwall. Thousands of white Christians in coastal areas were seized every year to work as galley slaves, laborers and concubines for Muslim slave masters in what is today Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya. Villages and towns on the coast of Italy, Spain, Portugal and France were the hardest hit, but the Muslim slave raiders also seized people as far afield as Britain, Ireland and Iceland. They even captured 130 American seamen from ships they boarded in the Atlantic between 1785 and 1793.

According to one report, 7,000 English people were abducted between 1622 to 1644, many of them ship crews and passengers. But the Corsairs also landed on unguarded beaches, often at night, to snatch the unwary. Almost all the inhabitants of the village of Baltimore, in Ireland, were captured in 1631, and there were other raids in Devon and Cornwall. Many of these white, Christian slaves were put to work in quarries, building sites and galleys and endured malnutrition, disease and mistreatment at the hands of their Muslim slave masters. Many of them were used for public works such as building harbors.

Female captives were sexually abused in palace harems and others were held as hostages and bargained for ransom. "The most unlucky ended up stuck and forgotten out in the desert, in some sleepy town such as Suez, or in Turkish Sultanate galleys, where some slaves rowed for decades without ever setting foot on shore." Professor Davis estimates that up to 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved by Muslim slave raiders between 1500 to 1800.


While Islam dominated the slave trade from the 7th to the 15th Century, between 1519 and 1815 Europe also joined in this trade in human flesh. And it was those European nations which had suffered the most at the hands of Muslim slave raiders, and under centuries of Muslim military occupation, Spain and Portugal, who dominated the European slave trade.

It was the enemies of the Reformation who brought Europe into this disgraceful trade. Emperor Charles V (whom Martin Luther defied with his historic "My conscience is captive to the Word of God here I stand I can do no other." speech) of the Holy Roman Empire who first authorized Europe's involvement in the slave trade in 1519. Because of Pope Alexander VI's Line of Demarcation Bill of 1493 which barred Spain from Africa, Spain issued Asientos (a monopoly) to other nations to supply slaves for her South American colonies. First Portugal had this lucrative franchise, then the Dutch, then the French. Finally, by the treaty of Utrecht 1713, the Asientos was transferred from France to Britain. Britain's involvement in slavery was first authorized in 1631 by King Charles I (who was later executed by Parliament). His son, Charles II, reintroduced it by Royal Charter in 1672.

According to "The Slave Trade" by Hugh Thomas, approximately 4 million (35.4%) went to Portuguese controlled Brazil; 2.5 million (22.1%) to the Spanish nations of South and Central America; 2 million (17.7%) to the British West Indies (mostly Jamaica); 1.6 million (14.1%) to French West Indies; half a million (4.4%) to Dutch West Indies and half a million (4.4%) to North America.


Slaves freed by the British Navy.

It is extraordinary that, considering that less than 5% of all the Transatlantic slaves ended up in North America, the vast majority of films, books and articles concerning the slave trade concentrate only on the American involvement in the slave trade, as though slavery was a uniquely American aberration. However, the vastly greater involvement of Portugal, Spain and France seem to be largely ignored. Even more so the far greater and longer running Muslim slave trade into the Middle East has been so ignored as to make it one of history's best-kept secrets.

We tend to focus on what happened in North America because the United States would eventually fight a war, in part over slavery, and because of the enormous and vocal American opposition to slavery. This was in sharp contrast to the indifference that Muslims, Africans and many Europeans evidenced towards it.


A steam pinnache of H.M.S. London puts a warning shot across the bow of a slaving dhow in 1881.

The legends of European slave raiders venturing into the jungles of Africa to capture free peoples are generally just that: myths. The embarrassing fact of history, is that the Europeans did not have to use any force to obtain these slaves. The slaves were "sold" by their black owners. There was no need for the slave raiders to risk their lives or venture into the jungles of Africa, they simply purchased the people from African chiefs and Muslim slave traders at the coast.

However, while the slave trade and slavery itself was always criticized vigorously in Britain and America, no comparable criticism was evident in the Muslim Middle East or amongst the African tribes which sold their own people, and neighboring tribes, into slavery. Almost all of the African slaves transported across the Atlantic were captured and sold by African rulers and merchants.

Many chiefs found it more profitable to sell their enemies, criminals and debtors than to kill or imprison them. Many were weaker neighboring tribes conquered for the express purpose of selling their people into slavery. The disgraceful fact is that there were three equally guilty partners in the crime of the Transatlantic slave trade: pagan African chiefs, Muslim Arabs and Christian Europeans.

The Trade, as it became known, involved a triangular voyage. Slave ships sailed from Bristol or Liverpool loaded with cloths, beads, muskets, iron bars and brandy. This merchandise was then traded in West Africa in exchange for slaves. Mostly African chiefs sold their own people, or engaged in wars and slave raids against neighboring tribes to capture victims for this trade. Often professional Arab slave traders provided the victims.

The middle passage transported the slaves to the West Indies. Here the slaves were sold and the ships loaded with spices, rum, molasses and sugar. The third leg of the journey was the return to England. The average Englishman on the street was kept in the dark as to what was actually happening on the middle passage, until, in 1785, Thomas Clarkson's landmark study "Slavery and Commerce In the Human Species" was first published at Cambridge. According to Clarkson's research, 10% of the slaves would normally die during the middle passage. Strong men would fetch as much as £40 while the women and children were sold in cheap batches with the sick and weak men. In England 18,000 people were employed simply on making the goods to trade for slaves in Africa. This trade constituted 4.4% of British exports.


On Sunday 28 October 1787, William Wilberforce wrote in his diary: "God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the Reformation of society." For the rest of his life, William Wilberforce dedicated his life as a Member of Parliament to opposing the slave trade and working for the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire.

On 22 February 1807, twenty years after he first began his crusade, and in the middle of Britain's war with France, Wilberforce and his team's labors were rewarded with victory. By an overwhelming 283 votes for to 16 against, the motion to abolish the slave trade was carried in the House of Commons. The parliamentarians leapt to their feet with great cheers and gave Wilberforce the greatest ovation ever seen in British history. William bent forward in his seat, his head in his hands, tears of gratitude streaming down his face.

In 1809, the British government mobilized its Navy to search suspected slave ships, even foreign vessels on the high seas. In 1810, the British Parliament declared slave trading a felony, punishable by fourteen years hard labor. In 1814, the British representative at the Congress of Vienna insisted on the abolition of the slave trade being included in the International Treaty. This Treaty was signed by all the European powers on 9 June 1815. In 1825, Britain passed a bill making slave trading punishable by death.

Finally, just three days before William Wilberforce died, by an Act of Parliament in 1833, the British abolished slavery itself - setting all 700,000 slaves in British overseas territories free. Wilberforce's lifetime campaign of 59 years was now fully successful. "Thank God that I've lived to witness the day in which England is willing to give 20 million pounds sterling for the abolition of slavery!" he exclaimed. Within three days he died rejoicing. (For the story of how slavery was abolished see the chapter on William Wilberforce - Missionary to Parliament in The Greatest Century of Missions).

The "History of European Morals" suggests that "the unwary, unostentatious and inglorious crusade of England against slavery may probably be regarded as among the three or four perfectly virtuous pages comprised in the history of nations."

The abolition of slavery was one of the great turning points in history. And the long and vigorous crusade by the British Navy throughout the 19th Century against the slave trade ranks as one of the most extraordinary and unselfish applications of national policy ever seen in the history of nations.

"...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17


Rescued from slavery by the British Navy, Samual Crowther became the first African bishop of the Church of England.

One of the many fruits of William Wilberforce's life long crusade against the slave trade was that Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who was born in 1807 (the year Great Britain abolished the slave trade) in Yorubaland (modern Western Nigeria) was rescued by a British naval squadron. When Samuel was just thirteen years old, he was captured by Muslim slave traders for transport across the Atlantic, but rescued by the Navy. Samuel received an education in Sierra Leone, where he was converted to Christ, and after further education in England he was ordained as a minister of the Church of England for service with the Church Missionary Society.

Newly liberated slaves in Zanzibar.

Samuel participated in the expedition up the Niger River Valley to overcome the ravages of the slave industry still entrenched there. Of the 145 Europeans on that expedition, 130 were struck down with Malaria, and 40 died. Yet the expedition succeeded in establishing a Missionary Center at Fourah Bay for training liberated slaves to evangelize West Africa. It was built on the very place where a slave market had once stood. The rafters of the roof were made almost entirely from the masts of old slave ships.

Samuel Crowther was one of the first four students to graduate from Fourah Bay's College, Sub-Saharan Africa's first university. In 1864, Samuel Crowther was ordained as the first African Bishop of the Church of England in an overflowing Canterbury cathedral. Today there are eighteen times more Anglicans worshipping in church every Sunday in Nigeria than there are in Great Britain.


Livingstone and his team free slaves from Arab slave raiders in the Shire Valley.

However, as the British Navy was defeating the slave trade in the Atlantic, the East African slave trade was increasing. It was missionary explorer David Livingstone whose graphic descriptions brought the ravages of the East African slave trade to light. His Missionary Travels and Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambezi exposed the horrors of the slave trade: "Two of the women had been shot the day before for attempting to untie their thongs. One woman had her infants brains knocked out because she could not carry her load and it; and a man was dispatched with an ax because he had broken down with fatigue those taken out of the country are but a very small section of the sufferers. We never realized the atrocious nature of the traffic until we saw it at the fountain head. 'There truly Satan has his seat.' Besides those actually captured thousands are killed and die of their wounds and famine, driven from their villages by the internecine war waged for slaves with their own clansmen and neighbors, slain by the lust of gain, which is stimulated, be it remembered always, by the slave purchases of Cuba and elsewhere."


The British and Foreign Antislavery Society reported that most slaves were captured in the Lake Niassa area (Malawi and Mozambique), the Bahr El Ghazal region and in areas of Ethiopia. Slaves were taken to East African markets like Zanzibar, Kilwa and Quelimane and then shipped to Turkey, India, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Iraq, Iran and to the islands of Pemba, Reunion and Madagascar.

The Antislavery Reporter estimated the Muslim slave trade as exporting 63,000 slaves per year. Some estimates went as high as 500,000 slaves exported in a single year. One researcher, Ralph Austen calculated that between 1830 and 1861 imports of slaves to the Persian Gulf averaged 3,700 to 3,100 per annum. This same researcher noted that about 8,855 slaves a year were retained as slaves on the East African coast as slaves of African slave masters.

1833 - All slaves in the British Empire are set free by Parliamentary decree.

Few authors dared describe the horrors involved in the Transsahara slave trade: kidnapping and castrating young boys to be sold as eunuchs ("the living dead") in the homes of wealthy Arab landlords and force marching young women across endless miles of scorching sand in the Sahara desert to become slave concubines, most dying in transit. The Muslim slave trade typically dealt in the sale of castrated male slaves: eunuchs. Eunuchs were created by completely amputating the scrotum and penis of eight to twelve year old African boys. Hundreds of thousands of young boys bled to death during this gory procedure. The survival rate from this process ranged from 1 in 10 to 1 in 30. These castrated boys brought the highest price at the slave market.


Islam's Black Slaves notes: "the Quran stipulated that female slaves might lawfully be enjoyed by their masters." Mo-ham-mad himself owned many slaves, some of whom he captured in wars of conquest and some he purchased. The names of forty slaves owned by Mo-ham-mad are recorded by Muslim chroniclers. Islamic law (Sharia) contains elaborate regulations for slavery. A slave had no right to be heard in court (testimony was forbidden by slaves), slaves had no right to property, could marry only with the permission of the owner, and were considered to be chattel, that is the movable property, of the slave owner. Muslim slave owners were specifically entitled by Sharia law to sexually exploit their slaves, including hiring them out as prostitutes.

One reason why very little has been written about the Arab involvement in slavery is that traditional Muslim culture still condones slavery. The Sharia, the codified Muslim law which is based upon the teachings and example of Mo-ham-mad, contains explicit regulations for slavery. One of the primary principles of Islam is following the example of Mo-ham-mad. Whatever Mo-ham-mad did, we must do, what he forbade, we must forbid, what he did not forbid, we may not forbid. As Mo-ham-mad himself traded in slaves and owned slaves, accumulating multiple wives, even marrying a six year old, and having concubines - slavery and the sexual exploitation of women is deeply ingrained in Muslim tradition. Muslim nations had engaged in the slave trade for over 600 years before Europe became involved in the Transatlantic slave trade.


Almost 200 years after the British outlawed the slave trade in 1807, slave raids and the sale of slaves in Muslim markets continues in countries like Sudan. The slave trade remained legal in Saudi Arabia until 1962, when under international pressure it was finally abolished. However, there are persistent, credible reports, that slavery persists in Saudi Arabia, and even that slaves from Sudan are ending up in Saudi Arabia.

Recently, a former slave from the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, Mende Nazer, had her autobiography: "Slave: My True Story" published. Mende was captured in 1992, she was first a slave to a rich Arab family in Khartoum, and then in 2002 to a Sudanese diplomat in London, from whom she escaped and sought political asylum.


Although the Old Testament provided for slavery for criminals and insolvent debtors, kidnapping and enslaving law-abiding people incurred the death penalty. "Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death." Exodus 21:16

The New Testament expressly forbids both the slave trade and slavery itself. ".the Law is made not for the righteous but for Law breakers for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers." 1 Timothy 1:9-10

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

"From one man He made every nation of men." Acts 17:26

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength love your neighbor as yourself." Mark 12:30-31

"Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

"...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Corinthians 3:17

"...proclaim liberty throughout the land." Leviticus 25:10

Dr. Peter Hammond is the author of Faith Under Fire In Sudan and The Greatest Century of Missions.


A History of Christianity, by Kenneth Scott Latourette, Harper, 1953

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean; the Barbary Coast and Italy 1500 - 1800, by Robert Davis, Palgrave MacMillan, 2004

God's Politician, by Garth Lean, Helmers and Howard, 1987

History of Slavery, by Suzanne Everett, Chartwell, 1997

Islam's Black Slaves, by Ronald Segal, Farrar, New York, 2001

Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa, by David Livingstone, London, 1857

Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambezi, by David Livingstone, London,1865

The Greatest Century of Missions, by Peter Hammond, CLB, 2002

The Slave Trade, by Hugh Thomas, 1997

Under the Influence - How Christianity Transformed Civilization, by Alvin Schmit, Zondervan, 2001


The Unknown Slavery: In the Muslim world, that is — and it's not over

John J. Miller

When Henry Morton Stanley explored the Congo River's Boyoma Falls, the cascades weren't the only thing he noticed: "Every three or four miles we came in view of the black traces of the destroyers. The scarred stakes, poles of once populous settlements, scorched banana groves, and prostrate palms, all betokened ruthless ruin."

The perpetrators of this wreckage were slavers. As late as 1883 -- when Stanley wrote -- they were scouring the African countryside for people they could seize and haul into bondage. Their gruesome search destroyed whole villages, leaving once-prosperous areas devoid of inhabitants. Their forced marches to the coast were ghastly, with the exposed bones of captives who died along the way so numerous they practically served as trail markers. Those who survived the ordeal -- fewer than half, by some estimates -- were exported to the world's final repository of slavery: the Islamic world.

The phenomenon of Muslim slavery is not often studied, and especially not the Muslim enslavement of black Africans. "A list of serious scholarly monographs on [Islamic] slavery -- in law, in doctrine, or in practice -- could be printed on a single page," wrote Princeton's Bernard Lewis in his pioneering but brief book Race and Slavery in the Middle East (1990). He went on to suggest that the subject is so "highly sensitive" that it would be "professionally hazardous" for young scholars to take it up. Indeed, among the thousands of professors and graduate students affiliated with Middle Eastern studies programs in the U.S., only a handful have dared to broach the controversial topic, and a comprehensive history and analysis of it remains to be written.

This stands in stark contrast to the huge amount of scholarship on slavery in the West. Judging by the sheer volume of material, one might come away with the mistaken impression that nowhere was the vile institution of slavery more entrenched than among the American hypocrites who declared that all men are created equal. And yet throughout Muslim history, starting with Mohammed himself, slavery was a vigorous and central part of Islamic civilization. This is not to say Islamic slavery was worse than American slavery; in many ways, life was easier under Muslim owners than under Mississippi owners. The problem, rather, is that the Islamic world has not experienced the same kind of moral reckoning on slavery that the West has. Muslim countries proved extremely resistant to abolition; many of them had to be dragged into it by the European colonial powers. It is hard to imagine a serious person calling for America to enslave its enemies. Yet a prominent Saudi cleric, Shaikh Saad Al-Buraik, recently urged Palestinians to do exactly that with Jews: "Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don't you enslave their women?"

Words are one thing, and actions another. Even today, however, Islamic abolition cannot be called a complete success: Slavery continues to be practiced in at least two nations whose regimes claim to derive their legitimacy from Islam. These nations are Mauritania and Sudan, and Muslims remain virtually silent about the practices of their coreligionists there.

Slavery is an ancient institution, as old as recorded history. Aristotle defended it; both the Old and New Testaments accept it as a feature of the human condition. The Koran takes a similar view -- though it also encourages (without commanding) slaveholders to treat their slaves well, and urges (without requiring) their release. In Islamic theology, slave ownership is a morally neutral act, but God smiles on those who give slaves their liberty.

The characteristics of Muslim slavery have been far from uniform over the centuries, but it is possible to identify a few general traits. For starters, slaves were accorded more legal protections in the Islamic world than they received almost anywhere else. Slavery came under an intricate set of regulations that, for example, forbade the use of slaves as prostitutes, and prevented mothers and young children from being separated. The act of enslavement also wasn't supposed to occur on Muslim soil, though the slavers and their customers didn't always pay close attention to this rule. In the 19th century, Captain G. F. Lyon of the Royal Navy described slaveholding in Libya: "They seize on the inhabitants of whole towns where the only religion is that of the Koran, and where there are mosques; and this is without scruple or remorse."

There was plenty of cruelty -- slavery, of course, always involves cruelty -- but many chattels of Muslims were essentially domestic workers who functioned as surrogate members of the master's family. "Slaves in Islam were directed mainly at the service sector -- concubines and cooks, porters and soldiers -- with slavery itself primarily a form of consumption rather than a factor of production," writes Ronald Segal in Islam's Black Slaves. Perhaps the most important difference between slavery in the West and slavery in Islam is a demographic one: Two-thirds of the slaves transported across the Atlantic were male, and two-thirds of those involved in the Muslim trade were female.

Over time, sub-Saharan Africa became the principal source of involuntary labor. Muslims were not the first people to enslave black Africans -- the ancient Egyptians had done it -- but they were the first to engage in it systematically on a massive scale. Going back to Islam's birth in the 7th century, historian Raymond Mauvy estimates that 14 million black slaves have been sold to Muslims. (This compares to Paul E. Lovejoy's estimate of 10 to 11 million Africans shipped in chains to the Western Hemisphere between 1650 and 1900; the vast majority of them were sent to Latin America and the Caribbean, and half a million to British North America and the U.S.) The journey from the slave's homeland to the Middle East was often a treacherous one, especially when it involved enduring the blistering heat of a Sahara crossing. Yet the march was dangerous everywhere -- an Islamic version of the brutal Middle Passage. The dead frequently outnumbered the survivors on these journeys, often by a lot. Slavers accepted the high casualty rates because their business was so lucrative. "It is like sending up to London for a large block of ice in the summer," wrote a 19th-century missionary in what is now Tanzania. "You know that a certain amount of it will melt away before it reaches you . . . but that which remains will be quite sufficient for your wants."

The oddest aspect of Islamic slavery was the eunuch. Castrated male slaves became exceedingly popular in the Middle East sometime after the rise of Islam. They are best known for serving as harem guards, but they were also mosque custodians, administrators, and teachers. Eunuchs were bought and sold at a premium, in part because their grisly operation resulted in many fatalities. Their popularity remains something of a mystery. "One can only speculate that eunuchs were regarded as likely to be more devoted and dependable in serving their masters than other males, with normal distractions, would be," writes Segal. Whatever the reason, eunuchs became fixtures of Muslim culture. Islam teaches against physical mutilation, so Muslims found themselves searching for loopholes. Many eunuchs were castrated in non-Muslim territory immediately before importation, in the belief that this somehow kept Islamic land pure; a business in commercial castration thus developed along the fringes of the Muslim world. (Prague is said to have specialized in this during the period when Islam imported many slaves from Europe.) Muslims later accepted castration within their own lands, so long as non-Muslims performed the deed.

Slavery, in short, was an ingrained part of Islamic culture -- and it might still have been one today, but for European insistence that Muslims end it. As recently as 1878, the holy cities of Mecca and Medina served as major slave markets, trading 25,000 slaves annually. The eradication of slavery, in fact, is one of the great and unheralded legacies of colonialism.

The first Islamic countries to abolish slavery -- Tunisia, Egypt, the Ottoman Empire -- did so under pressure from the West. Others were more obstinate. In East Africa, slavery continued until after World War I. Its persistence into the 20th century explains why the League of Nations prioritized the abolition of slavery, even though doing so must have seemed an anachronism to unsuspecting Westerners. It wasn't until the start of World War II that Ethiopia and Liberia had gotten rid of slavery. Later still, the U.N.'s Declaration of Human Rights condemned slavery -- again, because the Islamic world had failed to wipe it out. In 1953, sheikhs from Qatar attending the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II included slaves in their retinues, and they did so again on another visit five years later. Saudi Arabia and Yemen didn't get around to abolishing slavery until 1962; three years later, a special report by the U.N. reported that the Saudi royal family continued to keep hundreds in bondage.

Mauritania outlawed slavery in 1980, apparently because its two earlier prohibitions (in 1905 and 1960) were ignored. Today, it is illegal for Mauritanians to say that slavery exists in their country -- a sure sign that it really does. By some estimates, at least 100,000 of Mauritania's 2.7 million people continue to live in unpaid servitude, most of them blacks toiling for light-skinned Moorish masters. Slavery goes back centuries in Mauritania, and there's a long tradition of slaves' working for the same family across generations. Apologists say that those who remain in this capacity aren't slaves at all, but servants who volunteer to trade their labor for room and board. Yet these claims are effectively rebutted by a small group of escapees who have delivered powerful personal testimonies of beatings and bondage. Reliable information on what's really happening in Mauritania is hard to come by because the Islamic government won't allow investigations. Foreign journalists must travel in the company of the secret police and face expulsion if they ask too many questions. In January, the government banned the main opposition party, which has demanded slavery's eradication. Mauritania has far to go before slavery ceases within its borders.

Sudan has received considerably more attention than Mauritania. In April, an organization affiliated with the Boston-based American Anti- Slavery Group made headlines by purchasing 3,000 slaves at $33 apiece and releasing them, and also negotiating the release of 3,000 others. Another group, the Swiss-based Christian Solidarity International, says it has bought freedom for 60,000 slaves in Sudan over the last several years. (This raises a separate question: Does buying slaves from modern-day slave traders wind up perpetuating their wretched business?) As with Mauritania, there are no truly credible numbers describing the extent of the problem. Sudan has engaged in slaving and slaveholding for ages; the current wave seems to have begun in 1983, with the imposition of Islamic law. Following the 1989 coup by the Islamofascist general Omar el-Bashir, the government became actively involved in arming the slavers and supporting their operations in the southern part of the country, where Muslims are outnumbered by Christians and other non-Muslims. These slavers' methods are especially vicious: The men are shot, the women and girls are sold into concubinage, and the boys are fortunate if they become unpaid cattle herders.

In considering the history of slavery in Islam and in the West, it is a mistake to decide that one branch of the same evil represents the greater sin. Instead, it is probably enough to say the human toll in both places was horrible: Call it "immoral equivalence." But there's an important difference today. The United States finds itself apologizing for slavery (at least when Bill Clinton visits Africa), handing out huge amounts of foreign aid (partly from a sense of guilt), and giving at least passing thought to financial reparations for the descendants of its own slaves. Yet when Muslim countries gather at international forums, they discuss none of this -- and instead spend their time writing resolutions bashing Israel and the West. They appear to feel no remorse for the past, and no responsibility for the present. While the West has its problems, it does not have this one.


Smuggled Boys Await Return to Families

From Times Wire Reports - 2005

Dozens of Pakistani children who had been smuggled to the United Arab Emirates to work as jockeys in camel races have returned home, an official said.

The 86 children, some as young as 4, had been in the United Arab Emirates for three to seven years, said Faiza Asghar, an advisor on child rights issues with the Punjab provincial government in eastern Pakistan.

The boys, with their identity cards hanging from their necks, arrived in the provincial capital, Lahore, on a flight from Abu Dhabi and were driven to a government shelter, Asghar said. The government will attempt to reunite them with their families.


Slave-girls as sexual property in the Quran
October 20th, 2005

The Quran makes women subordinate to men in many ways.   But no women subject to the rule of Quranic law are more unfortunate than slave girls. According to the eternal and unchanging scripture of Islam, men are permitted to treat them as sexual property regardless of their wishes, under certain specified circumstances.

Sura (Chapter) 23 of the Quran was revealed during Muhammad’s life in Mecca before his Hijrah or Emigration from his home city to Medina in AD 622. During the early years of his ministry, he never waged war on anyone, so these were times of peace, although he suffered from a measure of persecution. [1]

The Quran in Sura 23:5-6 says:

5 [Most certainly true believers] . . . guard their private parts scrupulously, 6 except with regard to their wives and those who are legally in their possession, for in that case they shall not be blameworthy. (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Quran, vol. 3, p. 237)

The key words are “those who are legally in their possession.” Maududi (d. 1979) is a highly respected commentator on the Quran, and he interprets the plain meaning of the clause, saying that sex with slave-girls is lawful.

Maududi writes:

Two categories of women have been excluded from the general command of guarding the private parts: (a) wives, (b) women who are legally in one’s possession, i.e. slave-girls. Thus the verse clearly lays down the law that one is allowed to have sexual relation with one’s slave-girl as with one’s wife, the basis being possession and not marriage. If marriage had been the condition, the slave-girl also would have been included among the wives, and there was no need to mention them separately. (ibid. p. 241, note 7)

The main point in this section, which Maududi overlooks or refuses to criticize, is that Muhammad himself endorses not only the entire institution of slavery, but also sex between male owners and their female slaves within this institution. No devout Muslim can criticize the Prophet.

It should be noted that Sura 70:29-30, also revealed in Mecca, uses words nearly identical to Sura 23:5-6. Men must guard their private parts from everyone but their wives and slave-girls, meaning that men may have sex with both “categories” (Maududi’s word). [2]

At the time Sura 4, where our next Quranic verse is found, is revealed, Muhammad had emigrated from Mecca to Medina, and had fought many wars and skirmishes. For example, he fought the Meccans in the Battle of Badr in AD 624 and again the Meccans at the Battle of Uhud in AD 625. He also exiled the Jewish tribes of Qaynuqa in AD 624 and Nadir in AD 625. He carried forward this policy of sex between male owners and their female slaves to his new city of Medina, with the added twist of enslaving women prisoners of war and permitting his soldiers to have sex with them. [3]

The Quran in Sura 4:24 says:

And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war) . . . (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 319). (See also Suras 4:3 and 33:50)

Thus, women captives are sometimes forced to marry their Muslim masters, regardless of the marital status of the women. That is, the masters are allowed to have sex with the enslaved human property.

Maududi says in his comment on the verse that is it lawful for Muslim holy warriors to marry women prisoners of war even when their husbands are still alive. But what happens if the husbands are captured with their wives? Maududi cites a school of law that says Muslims may not marry them, but two other schools say that the marriage between the captive husbands and wives is broken (note 44).

But why would a debate emerge over this cruelty? The answer is obvious for those who understand simple justice. No marriage should take place between married prisoners of war and their captors. In fact, no sex should take place between women captives and their captors.

Predictably, the hadith perpetuate this Quran-inspired immorality.

The hadith are the reports of Muhammad’s actions and words outside of the Quran. The most reliable collector and editor is Bukhari (d. 870).

The hadith demonstrate that Muslim jihadists actually have sex with the captured women, whether or not they are married. In the following passage, Khumus is one-fifth of the spoils of war.

Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, just finished a relaxing bath. Why?

The Prophet sent Ali to Khalid to bring the Khumus (of the booty) and . . . Ali had taken a bath (after a sexual act with a slave-girl from the Khumus).

What was Muhammad’s response to the person who hated Ali for this sexual act?

Do you hate Ali for this? . . . Don’t hate him, for he deserves more than that from [the] Khumus. (source: Bukhari)

Muhammad casually  mentions that slave women who are part of the one-fifth of the spoils of war can be treated like sexual property. Ali is a Muslim hero. He was the husband of Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter by his first wife Khadija. After all, slaves are fair sexual game. The Quran says so.

Some things, however, are forbidden. Holy jihadists may not practice coitus interruptus with the women they capture. Babies must be fathered, regardless of the preference of the man. The woman, of course, has no say in the matter whatsoever.

While on a military campaign and away from their wives, Muslim jihadists “received captives from among the Arab captives and we desired women and celibacy became hard on us and we loved to do coitus interruptus.” They asked the Holy Prophet about this, and he invoked the doctrine of fate:

It is better for you not to do so [practice coitus interruptus]. There is no person that is destined to exist, but will come to existence, till the Day of Resurrection. (Bukhari ; for parallel hadiths go here  and here)

That is, these enquiring Muslims should stop doing coitus interruptus, but instead go all the way with the enslaved sex objects. Fate controls who should be born.


It is one thing for some soldiers in any army to strike out on their own and rape women. All armies have criminal soldiers who commit this wrong act. But it is quite another to codify rape in a sacred text. Islam codifies and legalizes rape. It is disappointing that the Quran does not abolish this sexual crime in the clearest terms: Thou shalt not have sex with slave-girls under any circumstance!

It may be argued that American slave-owners committed sexual crimes against their slaves before the Civil War (1861-1865), so who are Christians or Americans (the two are not identical) to complain about Islam?

But the two situations are different. It is wrong to compare the US slave states with the Muslim community founded by Muhammad, who claimed divine inspiration. Instead, it is best to compare the founder of a religion (Jesus) with another founder (Muhammad). Second, in no place in the New Testament does God give permission to men—Christian or secular—to have sex with slave-girls. This would violate the spirit of Jesus’ ministry and the entire writings of the New Testament authors. If Americans in a bygone era did this, then they were not following God’s law. Moreover, a long and bloody Civil War was fought which ended the practice.

The Quran, however, codifies and legalizes this sexual crime for all time and every place that Islam is able to dominate. No significant reform movement within Islam questions the universal applicability of the laws it proclaims. Sharia law based on the Quran is on the march, replacing British Common Law in parts of Nigeria, and its application is demanded by Muslim populations from Malaysia to Canada.

Ignorance of the law, as they say, is no defense.


[1] For more information on the historical and the literary topical contexts of Sura 23, click here.

[2] If readers would like to inspect these verses in multiple translations from the original Arabic, they should go to this website, which has three translations, and this one, which is funded by the Saudi royal family.

[3] (For more information on the historical and literary topical contexts of this next sura, please click here.)

Supplemental Material

This article quotes the Quran and many hadith passages on sex with women prisoners of war. It also analyzes modern Muslim scholars on the topic. They support this practice. In Appendix One, the author answers a Muslim charge that the Old Testament allows this practice.

This article provides further details on Muhammad’s encouragement to his soldiers to “do it” with women prisoners of war.

For information on Muhammad’s “convenient” and “special” marriage privileges, see this short article.

This article demonstrates that Muhammad owned slaves.

This online booklet cites many passages in the Quran and hadith, surveying women’s place in Islam. The facts lead to one conclusion: Islam does not honor women.

As for slavery generally, this article demonstrates that Muslims practiced the slave trade. The article tracks this dirty business up to today in the Islamic world.

This short article contrasts Islam and Christianity on slavery.

This is an overview article on slavery in Islam.

This webpage  has many links to articles and online booklets on women in Islam and Christianity.

This page  in an online index refers to many articles and Quranic passages on slavery.


Couple Accused Of Enslavement Sued For $62,000

Dec 9, 2005 10:02 pm US/Mountain

Rick Sallinger  Reporting (CBS4) AURORA, Colo.

The U.S. Department of Labor is suing a Saudi man and his wife from Aurora who are accused of enslaving their maid.

Homaidan Al-Turki is accused in federal and state court of crimes ranging from kidnapping to sexual assault. His wife, Sarah Khonaizen faces separate charges.

The suit against the couple is for more than $62,000 in back wages on behalf of the maid who is from Indonesia.

On their website, in both Arabic and English, it claims the maid said her treatment was 'excellent and that she was treated as a member of the family and she had never been abused or sexually assaulted.'

A press release on the site stated the maid's passport and salary were being held at her request until she left the country. It adds:

'It is the same custom followed in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia where families will help the housemaids save their money.'

In court files, Al-Turki's lawyers claim he has been the object of a terrorist-related investigation for the past several years. That could be the beginning of a defense in which he claims they couldn't get him on that so now they are trying to get him on this.

"The problem with this defense is it's an American jury and American jurors are going to say to themselves 'wait a minute, that is not the custom in this country,'" said CBS4 legal analyst Andrew Cohen.

Al-Turki told CBS4 why he believes he is being prosecuted.

"I am Saudi, I am a Muslim and I think that's the ingredients to law enforcement," Al-Turki said.

On the website, there are pictures of him and his family and a claim that this case has 'ignited an outrage towards the Americans back in Saudi Arabia.'

Khonaizen, Al-Turki's wife, is accused in Arapahoe County on a new charge of violating the terms of her bond by having contact at a mosque with witnesses in her case.

Because of the violation, immigration authorities are seeking an increase in her bond.

The couple will go on trial next April in federal court.


Domestic prisoner prevails

Girl forced into servitude recounts her story in court; Irvine captors get prison terms.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Orange County Register

When authorities found her, the 12-year-old girl was shabbily dressed with reddish hands caked with dead, hard-looking skin – the result of being forced to work as a domestic servant for a large Irvine family.

Monday, at the culmination of Orange County's first federal prosecution of a human-trafficking case, the girl, now 17 and in a caring home, told a judge how she lost nearly two years of her childhood.

"Where was their love when it came to me?" the teen said, sobbing. "I was a human being, too."

Just a few feet away, the couple who treated her like an outcast in their new home in a gated community, forcing her to care for their five children and do housework for no pay, somberly awaited sentencing.

"What they did to me will scar me for the rest of my life," said the girl, Shyima. The Register is identifying her only by her first name at the request of her foster parents. "They treated me like nothing."

At the end of the emotional, two-hour hearing in Santa Ana, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna sentenced the pair to prison and ordered them to pay the girl more than $152,000 in restitution – the amount, plus penalties, that prosecutors calculated she would have made working seven days a week for 20 months.

After expressing remorse through an Arabic translator, Abdel Nasser Youssef Ibrahim, 45, was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

His former wife, Amal Ahmed Ewis-Abd El Motelib, 43, who also apologized to the court for her treatment of the girl, was sentenced to 22 months.

"What happened was due to my ignorance of the law," Motelib told the judge.

In a plea deal with prosecutors, she and Ibrahim pleaded guilty to four felonies, including conspiracy and holding a person in involuntary service through force, for keeping the girl in their home against her will from August 2000 to April 2002.

Ibrahim was ordered to surrender to authorities on Oct. 30, and Motelib on Nov. 13, but agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took them into custody immediately after sentencing for deportation proceedings. Both will be deported to Egypt after they serve their sentences, said William J. Hayes, a special agent with ICE in Santa Ana.

"I hope this brave and courageous child encourages others who may be in similar situations to come forward," Hayes said outside court.

Shyima, who comes from an impoverished family, began working in the couple's home in Egypt when she was 9.

According to court documents, the couple caught her sister – also employed in their home – stealing. They threatened to turn her over to authorities unless Shyima came with them to the United States as their domestic servant.

They struck a deal with her parents, essentially leasing her for $30 a month for a planned 10 years.

What transpired in Irvine was a modern-day saga of child slavery, according to court documents and an interview with Shyima.

Shyima was not allowed to go to school and was refused visits to the doctor.

She was relegated to a 12-by-8-foot converted room in the garage and forced to sleep on a dirty, fold-up mattress. She had no dresser, no closet, no heating or ventilation and only a black widow spider for a companion.

Every morning, Shyima would wake up the three youngest children and dress them. She would make their breakfast and pack their lunches for school while Ibrahim and Motelib slept.

While the other children in the household went to school, played with friends and visited the mosque, Shyima was shunned. She was not allowed to eat with the family and was verbally abused. Family members called her "the Stupid Girl," among other names.

Shyima was forced to hand-wash her clothes separately, in a soapy bucket she kept by her mattress.

On at least one occasion, Ibrahim slapped her for disobeying, and Motelib slapped her at least twice.

They told her she would be arrested if she went outside alone.

One day, a neighbor saw her taking out the trash and asked her why she was not in school. An anonymous phone call tipped off authorities.

Defense lawyers argued that in Egypt it is customary to employ children as domestic help. Laws there prohibit employing children 12 and under.

Ibrahim and Motelib said in court papers that their conduct was motivated by a "well-intentioned, charitable desire to care for and support the children of an impoverished Egyptian family."

Two of their five children, both adults, have been deported to Egypt; the others, a 16-year-old girl and twin 12-year-old boys, are expected to be placed in the care of relatives in Southern California.

Shyima saw a counselor for more than year and says she is starting to move on. But she still feels anger at Ibrahim and Motelib.

Her foster parents, Jenny and Chuck Hall, 36, who are expecting to finalize adoption proceedings in December, say she is adjusting well. The Halls have three biological children and three foster children.

Shyima is a junior in high school.

She plays soccer and softball and is learning to play the guitar. She loves movies and hanging out at the mall. She plans to go to junior college and is thinking about becoming a police officer.

After Monday's sentencing, she and her parents strolled downtown Santa Ana.

They bought her a new black dress for a homecoming dance this Saturday.