The Forgotten History of the White Slaves of The Islamic Barbary

Kirsters Baish| In today’s day and age when most people think of slavery they think of whites owning blacks and severely abusing them. Our culture has taught us that this is simply the way it was. While it is true that slavery did exist in America, our country isn’t the only place that slavery was practiced. In fact, it was not invented by American colonists or European explorers.

The origin of slavery was actually in Biblical times. Slavery still continues to this day in many parts of the world, including the Islamic world. In modern times people often forget the little fact that blacks weren’t the only ones subject to becoming slaves. The Barbary slave trade is seldom mentioned in today’s society, most likely because not many are aware of it. During the Barbary slave trade around 1.25 million Europeans were enslaved by Islamic Barbary pirates in North Africa.

During the 17th Century, Barbary pirates invaded cities in the coastal areas of Italy, Spain, Portugal, and France. They even invaded areas in England and Ireland. They invaded an Irish town named Baltimore, and almost everyone who resided there was captured and forced into slavery. They took the inhabitants back to Africa on ships, and they never saw Ireland again.

The “Barbary Coast” is a European term originally used for the North African areas that are now Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and Algeria. The attacks on the villages were so horrific that a number of coastal towns around the Mediterranean were left completely abandoned until much later in the 19th century. Everyone was so fearful of another raid or being captured.

Although it may see like this was all “race-based” slavery, that wasn’t true at all. Ancient-origins.netexplains:

Countless numbers of slaves that were captured by the pirates list their lives on the ships the were carted off on. They were forced to work the oars of galleys. They were shackled and chained. They ate, defecated, and slept in the same areas. They were whipped if they dared to stop rowing, and many were whipped to death.

So, while people complain that whites enslaved blacks and that’s the end of slavery, the simple truth of the matter is that is completely false. While there was slavery in America, and any form of slavery is/was unjust, slavery took place all over the world, and in many places it still exists. Slavery isn’t a white vs. black matter, and it never has been. It’s time that we stop making it seem that way.


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