Islamic State’s revival of slavery, extreme though it is, finds disquieting echoes across the Arab world
“SPOILS of war,” snaps Dabiq, the English-language journal of Islamic State (IS). The reference is to thousands of Yazidi women the group forced into sex slavery after taking their mountain, Sinjar, in August last year. Far from being a perversion, it claims that forced concubinage is a religious practice sanctified by the Koran. In a chapter called “Women”, the Koran sanctions the marriage of up to four wives, or “those that your right hands possess”.
Literalists, like those behind the Dabiq article, have interpreted these words as meaning “captured in battle”. Its purported female author, Umm Sumayyah, celebrated the revival of Islam’s slave-markets and even proffered the hope that Michelle Obama, the wife of America’s president, might soon be sold there. “I and those with me at home prostrated to Allah in gratitude on the day the first slave-girl entered our home,” she wrote. Sympathisers have done the same, most notably the allied Nigerian militant group, Boko Haram, which last year kidnapped an entire girls’ school in Chibok (pictured above).