Call for Muslim States to Apologise for Slave Trade

Islamic and Christian historians have called for a number of Muslim states to apologise for their part in the slave trade during a live radio debate.

The programme, broadcast on Premier Christian Radio, featured Islamic expert and lecturer, Anthony McRoy and ex-Christian and Islamic convert, the author Abdul-Haq al-Ashanti.

The debate began with McRoy explaining how North African Islamic states raided European countries for slaves, and have yet to apologise for these actions.

"It's essential that all states that ever engaged in this nefarious activity [slavery] should themselves apologise. I think there is a special case for the North African states and the Ottoman Empire to apologise," he said.

"Between 1480 and 1830 one and a quarter million white Europeans and North Americans were raided into slavery in north Africa by the north African states. The only reason this stopped is because the British and French made them stop, using the military."

When asked about the effect an apology would have on the public's view of Islam and Islamic countries, McRoy said, "I'm advocating this as a way of undermining anti-Muslim feeling, of attacking Islamophobia."

"People are scared of Islam. Rightly or wrongly, they are scared. They are scared that one day Muslims are going to conquer the west again. To obviate that fear, the North African states and Turkey should issue a formal apology so that people in the west can breathe and we can silence the rantings of Islamophobes."

The lengthy debate also featured US-based lecturer on Muslim-Christian relations, the Rev Keith Small, al-Ashanti, who said: "I think it's a very important subject that needs to be discussed not only by Muslims but also non-Muslims as well."

"It's difficult to apologise for the sins of another." He added. "In those cases where there were clear, gross abuses of the Islamic text, those people [of Islamic states] have to make some kind of apology, we utterly condemn that [slavery]."

Abdul-Haq al-Ashanti, the Muslim representative at the debate, said: "Obviously those states that were complicit in abusing and contradicting, maybe even in some cases rejecting the statements of Islam with regards of slavery, they have to make some kind of apology and make amends for what they've done."

Al-Ashanti, a historical specialist, wrote his first book, Before Nicea, on the early followers of Jesus Christ through the eyes of the Islamic faith.