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Monday, October 18, 2010

Kadhafi apologises For Arabs in the Slave Trade

At the conclusion of the 2nd Arab-African Summit last week-end, Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi apologised to Africa on behalf of Arab states for participating in the slave trade.

"I want to bring up a sensitive issue that has never been tackled before," Kadhafi said Sunday (October 10th) in Sirte. "It has been on our conscience and today I feel courageous enough to talk about it."

"This summit is a historic meeting, as it is the first time Arab and African leaders met since 1977. On behalf of the Arabs, I condemn, apologise and regret the behaviour of Arabs towards their African brothers," Kadhafi said.

The Libyan leader continued: "In the past, rich Arabs ill-treated their African brothers; they bought children and brought them to North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab areas between the two regions. They enslaved them and sold them and bought them, and practiced slavery in a shameful way."

Samir Tayeb, a law and political science expert, said he believed the mea culpa was made for one of two reasons. "The first brings us to believe that Kadhafi did it in coordination with the African leaders to give a head start to Arab relations with the African continent."

"The second scenario is that the Libyan leader did so in coordination with Arab leaders who started feeling disconnected from the African continent and would love to regain credibility in Africa despite the growth of Islamist terrorism, which springs from Kenya, Niger and Mali and directly threatens the Maghreb countries," Tayeb said..

"The Arabs are supposed to apologise and make up for their actions by supporting development and human rights and condemning racial discrimination. But how can this initiative succeed while corruption prevails in the Arab world and human rights are constantly violated?" wondered Lotfi Azzouz, Executive Director of Amnesty International in Tunisia.

"The apology is a step in the right direction, and it is important to recognise this brave and honest position. The countries in question are now calling for effective contribution in development projects for African countries affected by the enslavement of their children and their workforce," said Zied El Heni, a member of the governing body of the African Union of Journalists.

Monia Chaabane, a political scientist, said that this is wishful thinking and she believes Kadhafi is over-promising and does not realise the high price he and the other countries involved will have to pay for his apology.

"African countries will ask for compensation and will get it, which will give some Arab and African leaders the occasion to shine," said Libyan analyst Ghuma el Gamaty.

Samir Bettaieb stated that the Kadhafi apology holds political and legal implications. The affected African countries could ask for compensation, either individually or as part of the African Union.

"I think that addressing this issue will be made through political and diplomatic channels, as an Arab commitment to support African development," he said.

The Rest @ The Magharebia

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