What is Arab Imperialism

Qantara.de - Dialogue with the Islamic World

The global sympathy and solidarity for the historical and daily suffering of the black sections of the US population was of a magnitude that has not existed for a long time. There were also major protests in many places outside of the United States and Europe. Especially in the Middle East and in the Middle Eastern communities in Europe and the USA, there was great solidarity, after all, you see yourself as a victim of the racism of the whites of the north, as the violated of history, who are now just as loudly and furiously crying out for justice.

Above all, Kurds and Palestinians have without hesitation drawn parallels between their cause and the struggle of blacks in the USA - mostly with the claim that their own suffering is in no way inferior to that of blacks. But not only Kurds and Palestinians, most people in the Middle East believe that the problem of racism does not only affect black people. This may be true to a certain extent, but it dilutes the real problem: one's own racism.

Centuries-long tradition of slavery

The Muslims of the Middle East have dominated the Mediterranean region and large parts of Africa and Asia for almost a millennium. In doing so, they have enslaved millions of people, not only, but above all, black people. People, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, were sold in slave markets all over the world, their slave existence was in accordance with the applicable law, which was mostly in the hands of the ancestors of today's Kurds, Turks and Arabs.

Black people were used as servants, as workers and as soldiers, their life, health and state of mind played no role here. Black men were castrated so that they could be used as servants and guards in the harem or in the household of the wealthy.

Blacks are still at the bottom of the social hierarchy - they are humiliated, they have fewer career opportunities, they are jokingly referred to as "slaves" or eunuchs, and in times of social unrest like the Arab Spring they are often exposed to physical violence.

Even if slavery has been officially abolished in almost all Middle Eastern countries, the structural inequalities persist, which, as in the USA and Europe, keep blacks from participating in social life and wealth. Blacks are almost never seen in management positions or on television, and no non-black family wants to marry their children with black people.

Bilal as a quota black Muslim historiography

All this should be forgotten by referring to individual blacks who, for example, gained significant roles and possibly recognition in the early days of Islam or in the Ottoman army. But that's not all: the history of Islam is also "washed white" or "washed brown". Just as most Christians in the north imagine Jesus - contrary to all plausibility - as a young man with blond curls with milk-white skin, the early Muslims are all imagined as Arabs. Except for Bilal, the quota black, so to speak, of Islamic historiography: one of the first converts who is said to have distinguished himself as a muezzin with his beautiful voice and who tirelessly serves as an example of the unchangeable egalitarian power of Islam.

In some African countries, the oppression and exploitation of the black population by Muslims has been the subject of intense discussion for a long time. According to some activists, the Muslim conquest was as devastating as European colonialism, or worse. But this is not about a comparison of these historically and structurally very different phenomena.

It is about recognizing the complexity of human history and the ubiquity of oppression, exploitation and discrimination. Even up until the beginning of European imperialism, the world was by no means free from ideas of superiority, exclusion and hatred based on skin color, religion, language or origin.

If we understand racism as an instrument of power, it stands to reason that Muslims, as until relatively recently one of the economically, militarily and culturally dominant groups in the world, used mechanisms of exclusion to legitimize the power structures that privileged them to the same extent as Western Europeans hundreds of years after them. Racism as (pseudo) science may be an invention of the Europeans, especially of the era of science, the division of the population according to criteria such as skin color, ethnicity or religion, with different positions and rights has unfortunately been around since time immemorial.

It is also of central importance to bear in mind the extent of the consequences that Arab-Islamic, Persian, Seljuk and Ottoman imperialism have had to this day.

The fact that Arabic is the most common language from the Gulf to Gibraltar is certainly not because it is a particularly easy language to learn. Similar to French and English, it has established itself through economic, political and military pressure - both direct and indirect.

A number of cultures and languages ​​were suppressed, sometimes suppressed or even willfully destroyed by Arabic, Persian and Turkish imperialism. The fact that Islam is the dominant religion from Morocco to Mongolia is not only for theological reasons. Jews, Armenians, Greeks and numerous other peoples became minorities in their historic homelands.

In addition to conversions to Islam out of conviction, there were also forced conversions and those out of opportunism: important areas of social life were reserved for Muslims, converting to the religion of the rulers could open up undreamt-of possibilities.

Coupled with other factors such as occasional riots and massacres of minorities, devastation from wars and political and economic pressure, non-Muslim life has slowly but surely been wiped out. In most regions of the Middle East there are hardly any minorities left - the exodus of Middle Eastern Christians, for example, continues to this day.

Berbers, Christians in the Islamic World, Colonialism, Islamic History, History of the Near and Middle East, The West and the Islamic World, Kurds, Minorities in the Islamic World, Orientalism, Racism | Discrimination, Slavery, US Near and Middle Eastern Policy
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