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Islam’s Neglected Role In World History: Spain, Slavery, and ‘The Shores of Tripoli’

In this part, we’ll look at what slavery was, and is, today. On the 2nd January 1492, the Moors were finally expelled from Spain after continuous battles of Reconquista. Consequently, many of the Moors returned to the Barbary states and continued maritime piracy and slavery. At first, in the fifteenth century, the Barbary pirates sold slaves via Ottoman suzerainty. They were used as sex and labor slaves. Slave markets would span across the Middle East, making them available to members of local elites, who were readily able to buy them and sell them.

A little side-note here concerning gays and Muslims. To a Muslim a gay person is slated for death…probably thrown off a high building. However, some young boys, called bacha boys, are used as sex toys for the older men. This is a direct contradiction to the Qu’ran, but then, if it’s for pleasure, who cares what the book says.

Once the terror of the high seas, the corsairs (pirates) of the Ottoman empire began to lose power following the battle of Lepanto in 1571. They turned their attention to capturing ships flying foreign flags and either impressing the crew into their service, or selling them as slaves. The Barbary states make up modern-day Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, and Barbary pirates did not only raid for booty at sea, they raided white Christian slaves in European territory, too.

1492, the same year that saw Columbus discover “the new world” also saw the Moors being expelled from Spain. At first, in the fifteenth century, the Barbary pirates sold slaves via Ottoman suzerainty. They were used as sex and labor slaves. The attractive women and young children were put into forced prostitution and the men were put into labor. Slave markets would span across the Middle East, making them available to members of local elites, who were readily able to buy them and sell them.

The famous Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, was captured by the Barbary corsairs and brought to Algiers. He was a slave for five years until his rich family paid his ransom. This was also the case for other white slaves. Ransom funds were generally raised by rich or middle-class families or local church groups. The trade in slaves/captives became a huge profit as Europeans would have to buy their people back from slavery. These pirates raided villages in Spain, France, Italy, England, and sometimes even in Scandinavia.

After centuries of raiding villages for booty and slaves, Barbary piracy would peak in the 19th century. Between 1530 and 1780, it is estimated that 1,520,000 Europeans had been enslaved. In comparison, however, the Europeans enslaved 12 million Africans. Many of those that were captured were American merchant men, which caught the attention of then-President Jefferson. In the 1780s, Barbary privateers routinely attacked American commercial ships, taking booty and holding captives. By 1801 Thomas Jefferson refused to pay tribute.

Around this time, the tributes and the attacks had become a financial burden on the United States. On May 13, 1801, a naval fleet was sent to the waters off the Barbary Coast. With the aid of Sweden and The Kingdom of Sicily, they attacked Tripoli. In response, Tripoli declared war on the United States. The Barbary Coast War was also known as the Tripolitan War or The first Barbary War. The Europeans, on the other hand, would continue to have issues with the Barbary states for years to come.

America has been at war, in Afghanistan for seventeen years, and there doesn’t seem to have been much progress made…at least in the area of modernization. Afghanistan has long been considered one of the most religious countries in the world: a place where men and women follow Islamic doctrine carefully…where we find some oddities of practice. The bacha boys, mostly slaves, it is often little more than sex slavery, where boys as young as 10 are passed around a group of middle aged men for their own sexual gratification.

Another oddity for Muslims is their consideration of hygiene. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being completely hygienic, I would rate them on about a minus three! Hygiene seems to have been one of the things that was not explicitly explained in the Qu’ran, even though there are odd references to it. European toilets are a mystery to many and refugees often find European toilets mystifying. Pictograms and instructions in Arabic don’t always have the desired effect — but help is on the way in the form of a novel kind of toilet for all.

The influx of more than 1 million refugees last year is German society’s “rendezvous with globalization”. It’s undoubtedly a rendezvous of different cultures. And in the rush to provide housing, cots, clothing, food, language training and health care for the thousands of newcomers, no one thought to explain Western-style flush toilets. To a “culture” that defecates wherever and whenever, it’s no wonder that a toilet would present some mystery to be either solved or, as in most cases, ignored. Baffled by ordinary Western-style flush toilets, refugees nationwide have squatted on toilet rims or the floor of the bathroom when nature called; others have relieved themselves in the shower stalls, leaving behind human excrement on the floors.

Parting shot: Wake up, America, you’re being dumbed-down.

Image: Excerpted from: Não sei – Nâo sei, Public Domain,

Larry Usoff

Larry Usoff, US Navy Retired. Articulate. Opinionated. Patriotic. Conservative. Cultured enough so that I can be taken almost anywhere. Makes no excuses for what I say or do, but takes responsibility for them. Duty. Honor. Country. E-mail me at:

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