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Arab slave market

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A market which was motivated by the Islamic religion, people were captured from iberia, Sicily, mostly coastal towns in Europe, north Africa and India. At least 80% of those captured by the Muslim slave traders were calculated to have died before reaching the slave markets.

In 1189 CE, during the raid of Lisbon, by Almohad caliph, Abu Yusuf Yaqub Al-mansur, 3000 female and child captives were taken. In 1191, governor of Cordoba under the Muslims took 3000 Christian slaves.

In 1416, al-Maqrizi told how pilgrims coming from Takrur (near the Senegal River) had brought 1,700 slaves with them to Mecca. In North Africa, the main slave markets were in Morocco, Algiers, Tripoli and Cairo.

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Sales were held in public places or in souks. Potential buyers made a careful examination of the “merchandise”: they checked the state of health of a person who was often standing naked with wrists bound together. In Cairo, now in Egypt transactions involving eunuchs and concubines happened in private houses.

Prices varied according to the slave’s quality. Thomas Smee, the commander of the British research ship Ternate, visited such a market in Zanzibar in 1811 and gave a detailed description:

” ‘The show’ commences about four o’clock in the afternoon. The slaves, set off to the best advantage by having their skins cleaned and burnished with cocoa-nut oil, their faces painted with red and white stripes and the hands, noses, ears and feet ornamented with a profusion of bracelets of gold and silver and jewels, are ranged in a line, commencing with the youngest, and increasing to the rear according to their size and age.

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At the head of this file, which is composed of all sexes and ages from 6 to 60, walks the person who owns them; behind and at each side, two or three of his domestic slaves, armed with swords and spears, serve as guard.Thus ordered the procession begins, and passes through the market-place and the principle streets… when any of them strikes a spectator’s fancy the line immediately stops, and a process of examination ensues, which, for minuteness, is unequalled in any cattle market in Europe.

The intending purchaser having ascertained there is no defect in the faculties of speech, hearing, etc., that there is no disease present, next proceeds to examine the person; the mouth and the teeth are first inspected and afterwards every part of the body in succession, not even exempting the breasts, etc., of the girls, many of whom I have seen handled the most, indecently.”

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