Monday, February 25, 2008

Christians Enslaved

The harsh enslavement of Christians by Muslims which is occurring in some countries today has unfortunately been going on for a long time. Over the centuries, many Christian women and girls were kidnapped for harems. Entire families were auctioned off, divided forever. Christians and Jews living in Muslim countries often suffered from discrimination and terror. An article in The Brussels Journal discusses an aspect of history that tends to be forgotten.
Robert Davis' methodical enumeration in Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters indicates that perhaps one and one-quarter million white European Christians were enslaved by Barbary Muslims from 1530 through 1780. In his book White Gold, Giles Milton describes how regular Jihad razzias in Europe extended as far north as Iceland. Even during the time of Queen Elizabeth I, while William Shakespeare was writing his plays and poems, young Englishmen risked being surprised by a fleet of Muslim pirates showing up at their village, or being kidnapped while fishing at sea:

"By the end of the dreadful summer of 1625, the mayor of Plymouth reckoned that 1,000 skiffs had been destroyed, and a similar number of villagers carried off into slavery." Such events took place across much of Europe, also in Wales and southern Ireland: "In 1631…200 Islamic soldiers…sailed to the village of Baltimore, storming ashore with swords drawn and catching the villagers totally by surprise. (They) carried off 237 men, women, and children and took them to Algiers…The French padre Pierre Dan was in the city (Algiers) at the time…He witnessed the sale of the captives in the slave auction. 'It was a pitiful sight to see them exposed in the market…Women were separated from their husbands and the children from their fathers…on one side a husband was sold; on the other his wife; and her daughter was torn from her arms without the hope that they'd ever see each other again'."

Englishman Thomas Pellow was enslaved in Morocco for twenty-three years after being captured by Barbary pirates as a cabin boy on a small English vessel in 1716. He was tortured until he accepted Islam. For weeks he was beaten and starved, and finally gave in after his torturer resorted to "burning my flesh off my bones by fire, which the tyrant did, by frequent repetitions, after a most cruel manner."


In the essay Andalusian Myth, Eurabian Reality, Bat Ye'or and Andrew G. Bostom examine the myth of the supposed "tolerance" enjoyed by Christians and Jews in the Iberian Peninsula: "Segregated in special quarters, they had to wear discriminatory clothing. Subjected to heavy taxes, the Christian peasantry formed a servile class attached to the Arab domains; many abandoned their land and fled to the towns. Harsh reprisals with mutilations and crucifixions would sanction the Mozarab (Christian dhimmis) calls for help from the Christian kings. Moreover, if one dhimmi harmed a Muslim, the whole community would lose its status of protection, leaving it open to pillage, enslavement and arbitrary killing."

This humiliating status provoked many revolts, punished by massacres. Insurrections erupted in Saragossa in 781 and 881, Cordova (805, 818), Merida (805-813, 828 and the following year, and in 868), and again in Toledo (811-819). Many of the insurgents were crucified, as prescribed in the Koran 5:33:
"The revolt in Cordova of 818 was crushed by three days of massacres and pillage, with 300 notables crucified and 20 000 families expelled. Feuding was endemic in the Andalusian cities between the different sectors of the population: Arab and Berber colonizers, Iberian Muslim converts (Muwalladun) and Christian dhimmis (Mozarabs). There were rarely periods of peace in the Amirate of Cordova (756-912), nor later. Al-Andalus represented the land of jihad par excellence. Every year, sometimes twice a year, raiding expeditions were sent to ravage the Christian Spanish kingdoms to the north, the Basque regions, or France and the Rhone valley, bringing back booty and slaves. Andalusian corsairs attacked and invaded along the Sicilian and Italian coasts, even as far as the Aegean Islands, looting and burning as they went. Thousands of people were deported to slavery in Andalusia, where the caliph kept a militia of tens of thousand of Christian slaves brought from all parts of Christian Europe (the Saqaliba), and a harem filled with captured Christian women."