Slavery in Mauritania

MAURITANIA. Slavery was abolished in this small country in west Africa in 1981 and ciminalized in 2007, but that doesn’t matter. It’s still practiced and it’s estimated that 20% of the countrys population are enslaved. On August 7 the anti-slavery activist Biram Dah Abeid was arrested.


Abeid founded Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA). In 2012 Abeid and others burned islamic texts that codify slavery, racism and the oppression of women during a demonstration. They were arrested for blasphemy. And on August 7 Abeid was woken by the police who took him into custody without any charges (sign the petition to free him). He is running for a seat in parliament in elections September 1 and it’s believed that’s the reason for his arrest.

Slavery is a part of Islam and Mohammed advocated it. It’s also obvious that he was a racist since he sold two black slaves for one non-black. In fact, the arabic word for a black person is abid which also means slave. It was the Moors (Muslims) that started enslaving the more  dark-skinned Mauritanians and this is still the case. Both groups are Muslims.

The problem is that Mauritania’s Arabs sincerely believe that blacks are born to be slaves. They believe that a black man, woman or child’s place in life is to serve an Arab, and does not matter whether that black is a Christian, or a fellow Muslim.

Samuel Cotton

Slaves are often not allowed to go to school. The children can be sold from their parents. Female slaves are raped, their children becomes slaves and their owners may not allow them to pause in their work to take care of them. There’s stories of torture and killing. One mother tells how her master killed her baby by pouring embers over him.

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