What can be answered to these words of the Turkish president? Of course, it is difficult to disagree with them. Indeed, European countries have brought a lot of evil to the African continent. We are talking about the slave trade, which lasted from the XV to XIX centuries, and about colonial expansion in all parts of the continent, and about the brutal suppression of anti-colonial uprisings, and about postcolonial wars and upheavals, behind which very often the Western powers stood. Just as seriously as France and Germany, other former colonial powers — the United Kingdom and Portugal, Belgium and Italy, Spain and the Netherlands — and the United States of America are to blame for the problems and troubles of the African continent. However, the Turkish president should be cautious with an excursion into history, trying to present Turkey as a kind of humanist country, completely innocent of historical atrocities. And it's not just about massacres of Armenians. In addition to the Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Yezidis were killed and deported during the same period. We can also recall that the Ottomans worked for several centuries in the Balkan Peninsula, in Transcaucasia. The Turkish side often likes to remember the Caucasian War and the subsequent resettlement of the Muhajirs to the Ottoman Empire. However, if you recall the story, it was not Russia that raided the lands of Ottoman Turkey, but vice versa. There have never been any Turkish slaves captured on the territory of the Ottoman Empire.
The media often raises the issue of the Armenian Genocide in the early twentieth century, but for some reason we forget about the millions of Slavs and representatives of other peoples of Russia who were abducted and sold in the slave markets of the Ottoman Empire almost throughout the history of this state. When in the middle of the 15th century an independent Crimean Khanate emerged on the territory of the Crimean Peninsula, which was one of the fragments of the Golden Horde Empire, it took into its own hands a massive slave trade, formerly carried out by Genoese merchants. The main importer of slaves became Ottoman Turkey. Exact information about the number of people sold into slavery in the slave markets of the Crimean Khanate is unknown. But, according to the assumptions of modern historians, it can be estimated at least in 2-3 million people. These numbers are typical for the period from 1463 to 1779.
- The slave market in the Cafe (reproduction of a painting by artist Fastenko)
The majority of slaves sold were residents of the territories of modern Russia, Ukraine and Poland - representatives of the Slavic, Finno-Ugric, North Caucasian peoples. Basically, the “white slaves” were shipped to Istanbul, where they were resold. It is from slaves, as we know, that the janissary guard of the Turkish Sultan was recruited. The Ottoman slave trade has caused enormous damage to the social, economic and cultural development of the countries and peoples of Eastern and Southern Europe. For a long time, for political reasons, they preferred not to spread the scope of the slave trade in the East in Russian literature, and by the slave trade they understood, first of all, the export of black slaves from Africa to the American colonies of European powers. But in fact, the scale of the Ottoman slave trade was no less impressive.
For several centuries, Arab-Berber pirates, who, by the way, were based on the North African possessions of the Ottoman Empire, Algeria and Tunisia, terrorized the Mediterranean coast of Europe. Spain, Italy, Portugal, France ... All these countries to some extent suffered from the predatory raids of the Arab-Berber pirates. The violent Maghrebins even penetrated into Northern Europe and attacked the coastal villages of Holland, England, Ireland and even Iceland, Denmark and Sweden. One of the classic examples of such raids is “Turkish abductions” or the attack of Ottoman pirates on Iceland. 4 — 19 July 1627, on the coast of Iceland, a series of pirated raids were carried out to seize the local people into slavery. Hundreds of Icelanders, men and women, were taken into slavery, and the old people, who were useless as slaves, were locked up in churches and set on fire.
According to an expert on the history of the Mediterranean from the University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Davis, only in the XVI-XVIII centuries. North African slavers traded 1,25 million Europeans into slavery on the slave markets of the Maghreb. Attacks on the coastal villages of Spain, Italy and France were regular. But also the Arab-Berber pirates captured the crew and passengers of European ships en route to the Mediterranean. Captured slaves were sold, depending on gender and age, into harems, households, galleys and mines.
The Algerian captivity was visited by the famous Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra - a Spanish writer and author of the immortal novel "The Cunning Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha". The story of his captivity is common in Mediterranean Europe at that time. In September 1575, Miguel de Cervantes and his brother Rodrigo returned from Naples to Barcelona aboard the Sun galleys. However, the ship did not reach the Catalan coast - in the morning of September 26 it was attacked by Algerian pirates. The Spanish crew and passengers were people of the non-punctual ten and put up serious resistance to the Algerians. In the battle, many members of the Sun galleys crew died, and the survivors were captured and taken to Algeria for sale for ransom to relatives or, in the case of failure to ransom, sale in the slave markets of the Maghreb. Among the prisoners was Miguel Cervantes. In the Algerian captivity, he spent five years being subjected to torture and harassment. Miguel de Cervantes' father, Don Rodrigo de Cervantes, managed to find funds for the purchase of Rodrigo Jr., but he did not have enough money for Miguel. Miguel Cervantes' mother applied for permission to export 2000 ducats in the form of goods from the Kingdom of Valencia for the purchase of her son Miguel. October 10 1580 was drafted in Algeria in the presence of witnesses in the presence of 11, according to which Miguel de Cervantes was redeemed from captivity after spending five years there.
For Miguel de Cervantes, the horrors of the five-year Algerian captivity, however, ended very well. He returned to his native Pyrenees. But millions of prisoners and "white slaves" captured by North African pirates, and disappeared in a foreign land, remaining in slavery until the end of his days. The effects of the Arab-Berber attacks on Europe have been very grave. As a result of the actions of pirates, entire coastal areas of Spain and Italy became deserted, European countries lost thousands of ships along with crews, passengers and cargo.
The criminal trade of pirates patronized by the Ottoman Empire lasted until the XNUMXth century. In many ways, European expansion in North Africa, like Russian expansion in the Caucasus and Crimea, was dictated by the need to protect the southern borders from attacks by dangerous neighbors. It was the need to put an end to the pirates of the Barbarian Shore, as the North African coast was called in Europe, and numerous “Algerian expeditions” were called up during the XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries. undertaken fleets European states. The fleets of Spain, Portugal, Italian states, France, and Great Britain participated in these expeditions. The actions of Algerian pirates managed to "get" even the young United States of America, separated from Africa by the Atlantic Ocean. The fact is that Algerian pirates attacked American ships that transported goods to and from Europe. In 1815, the United States declared war on Algeria and sent a detachment of 3 frigates and 10 ships to the Mediterranean Sea under the command of Commodore Stephen Decatur. The American commander demanded that Algeria immediately return all captured American citizens and recognize the general laws of international law. The Algerian dei (ruler) agreed with the demands of the commodore, but as soon as the US ships left, he refused to sign the American document and only the new appearance of the American flotilla off the Algerian coast made him sign the agreement. The last Algerian expedition was undertaken by France and turned into a large-scale colonial war, which ended with the capture of this North African country.
The scale of the Ottoman slave trade in Central and East Africa was even greater. To begin with, the Ottoman slave trade in Africa was an integral part of the overall Eastern slave trade, which existed much longer than the European slave trade — roughly from the time of the Arab conquest of North Africa until the twentieth century. The ways in which Arab and Ottoman merchants exported African slaves to the Middle East were laid long before Christopher Columbus opened the way to America.
African slaves were supplied to the Ottoman Empire by Arab merchants through Egypt, the Maghreb, Zanzibar, and a number of East African ports. In the 19th century, it was Egypt and Zanzibar that became the main centers of the Ottoman slave trade in Africa. Under the command of Arab and Turkish slave traders, armed detachments made expeditions to take slaves in Central Africa — the areas of the upper reaches of the Nile, Congo, the Great Lakes region. Fortified trading posts were established there, becoming outposts of slave traders. Slave caravans followed from trading posts to the ports of East Africa. Although during the first half of the 19th century, all European countries banned the slave trade, it continued in the Ottoman Empire and in the Arab East. Historians estimate the number of African slaves exported to the Ottoman Empire at 10 million. The fact of the appearance of groups of people of African descent in all regions that were part of the Ottoman Empire, up to the Caucasus and the Balkan Peninsula, is connected with the slave trade. Slavery in the Ottoman Empire virtually disappeared only with the empire itself - in 1918.
A distinctive feature of Eastern societies was the absence of opponents of slavery among the representatives of the political and cultural elite. While in Europe, criticism of the slave trade by clerics, philosophers, enlighteners, and individual politicians began during its heyday — in the 17th — 18th centuries, in the East individual voices against slavery began to be heard only because of the influence of the European cultural tradition. Perhaps one of the few Ottoman officials who actually fought with the slave trade in Africa was Emin Pasha, appointed in 1878 as governor of the Equatorial province of Egyptian Sudan. But Emin Pasha was neither a Turk nor an Arab by nationality - his name was Edward Schnitzer and he came from a family of German Jews, born and raised in Germany, where he received a medical education. Islam Schnitzer took a conscious age, years in 25-30, while serving in the Ottoman Empire. By the way, it was precisely for the active opposition of the slave trade to Emin Pasha that he was killed in 1892 by Arab slave traders.
When modern critics of the West from among Arab, Turkish, African politicians say that the European slave trade took at least 40 million people from the African continent, they forget that the scale of the Arab-Ottoman slave trade was about the same - The Ottoman Empire was taken 10 million African slaves, and in fact they were supplied to many other countries of the East - Oman, Yemen, Iran. There is a widespread view that the so-called. “Domestic slavery” in the countries of the East was much milder than plantation slavery in the American colonies. However, when seizing slaves, Arab and Turkish traders treated the Africans much more harshly. Considering that it was generally cheaper to drive slaves into Egypt from South Sudan than to organize their transatlantic crossing from West Africa to America, Arab-Turkish slave traders valued their “black goods” to a lesser degree and, if necessary, got rid of it easily. The horrors of the Arab-Ottoman slave trade are described in numerous notes of 19th-century European travelers who visited East and Central Africa. Thus, not only Europe is responsible for the genocide and slave trade on the African continent - Turkey and a number of Arab countries fully share the responsibility of England, France, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands for organizing a large-scale slave trade.
Finally, when Erdogan mentions the role of European states in unleashing wars in modern Africa, which is really the case, it would not hurt him to say that one of the main sources of destabilization of the situation in the Muslim countries of Africa and the Middle East is the activity of radical organizations, supported and sponsored by Saudi, Qatari and Turkish foundations. It was these organizations that played an important role in the overthrow of secular regimes in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and the incitement of civil wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Mali.