Massive extent of 'faith slavery' between 1500 and 1800

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Washington, Mar 14 (ANI): A new research has hinted that between 1500 and 1800 slavery was based on religion and not on race as believed.

Robert C. Davis, professor of history at Ohio State University, suggests the fights between Muslims and Christians in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East led to enslavement of at least 3 million people of both faiths.

Davis uses the term "faith slavery" in his new book, 'Holy War and Human Bondage: Tales of Christian-Muslim Slavery in the Early-Modern Mediterranean' to refer to religion based slavery.

Davis said: "Faith slavery had huge economic and social consequences at the time but most people today don't even know about it."

Apparently, Mediterranean slavery flourished as Muslim corsairs captured ships and raid seaside towns in the Mediterranean and Atlantic.

He added: "During this period, both sides, Muslims and Christians, had nearly equal power. It was really a clash of empires and taking slaves was part of the conflict."

He estimates more than 1 million Muslims were enslaved in Europe and another 2 million Christians.

Davis calculated the number of new slaves it would take to replace the ones who died at a given time and location to make the estimate.

He has tried calculating the number of Christians who were enslaved in the Near East, as well as the extent of Islamic slavery in Christian Europe.

Davis said: "Even rough calculations make it clear that Mediterranean faith slaving was not some minor phenomenon, a petty problem for people at the time, as has been assumed by many historians today.

"Rather, it was a huge business and a vital part of the economy and the social fabric at the time."

Davis argues faith slavery "does not fit the historical master narrative that people in the United States and Europe tend to assume."

He explained: "This narrative holds that from Columbus' time until the 20th century, history was largely about European colonial expansion, with the imposition of white, European, Christian power on much of the world.

"This story of faith slavery does not fit that narrative. The idea that triumphant Europeans were not everywhere inflicting their dominance on others seems counter-intuitive.

"But in fact, during this centuries-long struggle between nearly equal empires, millions of European Christians ended up enslaved in Muslim hands."

He claims some historians minimize faith slavery by calling victims "captives" rather than "slaves."

Davis briefed: "That ignores the fact that more than half of the Christian slaves, and almost all of the Muslims, were never ransomed.

"Some people assume that faith slavery, because it was not based on race, was less brutal or dehumanizing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"Just as with black Africans, faith slaves were considered commodities to be bought and sold. If anything, religious intolerance justified extremely cruel and harsh treatment of both Christian and Muslim slaves.

"Faith slavery played an important role in both American and European history. It deserves more attention." (ANI)

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