The Arabs' treatment of black Africans can aptly be termed an African Holocaust. Arabs killed more Africans in transit, especially when crossing the Sahara Desert, than Europeans and Americans, and over more centuries, both before and after the years of the Atlantic slave trade. Arab Muslims began extracting millions of black African slaves centuries before Christian nations did. Arab slave traders removed slaves from Africa for about 13 centuries, compared to three centuries of the Atlantic slave trade. African slaves transported by Arabs across the Sahara Desert died more often than slaves making the Middle Passage to the New World by ship. Slaves invariably died within five years if they worked in the Ottoman Empire's Sahara salt mines. Black Africans did not enjoy immunities to many of the diseases found in the Arab world, which also resulted in high death rates. By comparison, the African-American population increased greatly through natural procreation, because the United States halted the slave trade and the laws provided an economic incentive for slave procreation. Few slave populations in history increased naturally as rapidly as in the U.S. In fact, there are no documented increases on the scale found in the antebellum U.S. Slaveholders in the Muslim world often castrated black African male slaves to serve as harem guards. This is a prime reason there are not many communities of blacks living in the non-African Muslim world today, despite the millions of black African slaves sold into the Muslim world. Many African boys did not survive their castration surgery. As late as 1903, there were still 194 African eunuchs in service to the Ottoman ruling family.
African women were enslaved by Arabs more than African men. Few black slave children survived in the Muslim world. In 1860, when 3,000 black female slaves were set free in Zanzibar, only 5% of them had children. Because under Islamic law a concubine bearing the child of the master could become a wife and her children would then share in the inheritance, Middle Eastern wives and children of masters had a strong incentive to interfere with the sex lives of female slaves and cause brutal abortions. Islamic jurisprudence historically allowed abortions in the first four months of pregnancy, long before the West allowed it. Islamic tradition supports the view that the soul enters the fetus at 120 days. If a concubine had the only son, the threat to the wife was even greater. The Koran allowed Muslim men to have as many concubines as they could afford, in addition to four wives.
The Arab history of anti-black racism predates European anti-black racism by several centuries. The early Islamic empire exhibited all the characteristics of anti-black racism, and blacks suffered the lowest form of bondage. By 869 A.D., black African slaves in southern Iraq, the despised Zanj, launched an extended slave revolt that threatened Baghdad until 883 A.D. The main reasons we have not heard more about the horrors of slavery in the Muslim world are that Muslims did not express moral outrage against slavery and wrote no abolitionist literature against the institution of slavery. The moral outrage against slavery was and is, in the grand historical context, a European-inspired cause gaining significant traction only in the 1760s. Europeans took photographs of chained black African slaves in Arab slave-trading vessels on the East Coast of Africa in the 1880s. Slavery persisted openly in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries in the latter half of the twentieth century, 100 years after slavery was abolished in the United States. As late as 1960, African Muslims still sold slaves when they arrived on pilgrimages, as a way to finance their pilgrimages. Arab nations lagged far behind the rest of the world in abolishing slavery: Saudi Arabia and Yemen in 1962, United Arab Emirates in 1963, Oman in 1970 and Mauritania officially in 1981. Today, according to U.S. State Department figures, Muslim nations condone international human trafficking more than Western countries do.
David Livingstone observed in Africa the horrendous slave trading practices of Arab and pagan slave traders, decades after Great Britain began to suppress the international slave trade, and almost a century after Chief Justice Lord Mansfield, with the stroke of a pen, freed slaves in England. The Ottoman Empire resisted British efforts to suppress slavery and the slave trade. Over the course of 70 years, 2,000 British sailors died to free 160,000 slaves. While Islam urged improved treatment of slaves in some ways and emancipation, the rapid expansion of the Muslim empire significantly increased the number of slaves, leading to crueler treatment. Africa and the Middle East never developed the moral abolitionist fervor seen in Western nations. Slavery is now most prominent in Africa.
From the time of the Crusades until the early 1800's, Barbary pirates or corsairs from Muslim North Africa raided European coasts and waters, selling captive Europeans as slaves in North African ports and Istanbul. Barbary corsairs attacked shipping in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, raiding the coasts of Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Britain, Ireland and Africa for slaves. Some Mediterranean islands and coasts in Spain and Italy were abandoned due to the threat of Barbary slave raiding. The United States initially paid tribute to the Barbary pirates to obtain the return of American captives. After building ships, the United States fought the First and Second Barbary Wars to stop this slave trading and piracy. In fact, the desire to defend American shipping and sailors from Barbary piracy gave re-birth to the U.S. Navy. The Marine Hymn refers to the Battle of Derne on the shores of Tripoli. The traditional Mameluke sword worn by Marine officers today is based on the one given Marine First Lt. Presley O'Bannon by Prince Hamet of Tripoli.