An Enemy Of The Slave State

Abolitionist Biram Dah Abeid has faced police harassment, arrest, apostasy charges, torture, and death threats for fighting to end slavery in Mauritania:

The legal framework in Mauritania is very fluid. This fluidity contributes to the maintaining of slavery. There are two types of laws in Mauritania. You have the “slave code,” which legitimizes and codifies slavery, and which gives the law a sacred aspect. These are books that were written in the Muslim Middle Ages in the Maghreb area between the ninth and 16th century. These laws authorize the owning of black people. They decree that the black race is inferior. They allow for the selling of black people, the castration of black people, the rape of black women. These codes also state that women are legal minors for their whole lives and are not equal to men. …

Mauritania also has a modern law that it has codified, specifically a law against slavery. But these are not laws that are meant to be applied. The traditional law that decrees racial inequality and slavery and the inequality of women is considered superior and sacred. When there is a contradiction between the two, the traditional law trumps modern law each time. The judges are trained using these slave codes and the antiquated law. They’re brought up within this framework and believe that it comes from God. Other laws, modern laws and international conventions are considered in Mauritania to be from people who are non-Muslims and nonbelievers.