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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just in time for the World Cup, the 'Islamic' Slavery Museum opens in Doha, Qatar.

Just in time for the World Cup, the 'Islamic' Slavery Museum opens in Doha, Qatar.(TN).

Newly planted trees stand solemnly over the whitewashed courtyard of a traditional mansion in old Doha that less than a hundred years ago was often filled with shackled men, women and children from east Africa — the main commodities in a booming Gulf slave trade.

The large home once belonged to Doha’s most prominent slave trader, a man his neighbours called “jelmood", or “rock" — an allusion to his hard heart.

Today, in the old house, this story and the larger history of slavery in the Indian Ocean world that brought, by some estimates, hundreds of thousands of enslaved people to the Arabian Gulf is being explored for the first time in a museum confronting the past and, its curators hope, helping Qataris shape their future.

These settings reveal the circumstances of the enslaved people whose lives form part of the story of this country," reads one of the museum’s displays — a history that has largely been forgotten and avoided in both official narratives and the public conscience, even by the descendants of slaves now integrated into Gulf societies.

The first exhibit in the museum features an ancient slave sales contract inscribed in Aramaic on a clay tablet, Greek paintings of slaves working an olive plantation and other examples of slavery throughout history. The artefacts are intended to create historical context and describe the various forms of slavery, stretching from ancient Mesopotamia to serfdom in Middle Ages Europe and the most brutal form of human bondage, the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The historical frame then shifts to the system of which the Gulf was a part, the Indian Ocean slave trade. Short video lectures by scholars and archival photographs describe the “maritime silk road" that connected the islands of South-east Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, the Arab Gulf and east Africa as a distinct region. One of the threads linking these far-flung cultures and empires was slavery. Read the full story here.

HT And Source:
Related: Modern-day slavery in focus: Qatar

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