“A Prince Among Slaves” was one of the more ambitious efforts to sell African-Americans on Islam. Aired nationwide on PBS and still making a tour of the United States, the documentary claims to tell the story of an African Muslim prince who was sold into slavery in the South.
The story of Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori is used as a springboard to incorporate Islam into American history, misrepresent it as an anti-slavery creed and convince African-Americans that their cultural background is Muslim. The website set up for “A Prince Among Slaves” even claims that the Blues originated from Koran readings.
But there’s just one problem with trying to present Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori as a victim of slavery and a role model for African-Americans. The Prince was actually a vicious racist who was a mass murderer of Africans and a brutal plantation overseer.
Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori despised Africans and considered himself a Moor. So much so that he would actually have been more at home in the Klan, than in some of the Black churches and cultural centers where “A Prince Among Slaves” has been screened.
A contemporary fundraising letter on his behalf read, “But Prince states explicitly, and with an air of pride, that not a drop of Negro blood runs in his veins. He places the Negro on a scale of being infinitely below the Moor.”
The letter then goes on to emphasize that his brother was considered racially inferior because of an African mother, and that if Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori were to return home he would have a superior right to the throne than his impure sibling.
In Rahman’s own account, he describes going to war against an African tribe and razing their towns. After the natives fought back, Rahman boasts that he proclaimed, “I will not run for an African.” This assertion of racial superiority proved to be a poor choice. The Africans caught Rahman, tied him up and sold him to some slave traders.
Far from being a hapless African sold into slavery, Rahman was actually a Muslim Moor who despised Africans. It is hard to think of a worse role model to present to African-Americans than a mass murderer of black people, whose expedition against them led to him being sold into slavery by the very Africans he despised.
“Prince of Slaves,” the Terry Alford book on which the movie is loosely based, documents Rahman’s racism. And as overseer his abuse of African slaves on the plantation. Another letter mentions his blood-thirsty disposition and writes that:
“M. Foster actually made him manager of the plantation, had continually to keep an eye upon him and to curb his sanguinary temper to prevent him from exercising cruelty on his fellow servants…”
Alford is skeptical, because such an image of Prince Rahman would destroy the entire purpose of his book. Yet it is wholly consistent with Prince Abdul Rahman’s statements and attitudes. With his entire history of slaughtering Africans and viewing them as an inferior race.
But was Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori even a Muslim? The fundraising letter calls him only a nominal one. And during his grand tour of America, he promised to introduce Christianity to Africa. Of course the Prince may have merely been a liar telling his hosts exactly what they wanted to hear. There is certainly evidence of that. Which raises the question of how much of his story was even true at all.
Prince Rahman was indeed a bridge between Islam and African-Americans, in the same sense that the slave traders were. His story is a reminder that Islamic racism has a long history and played a role in the destruction of African cultures, just as much as the European variety did.
The exploitation of Rahman’s story with “Prince of Slaves” also shows how Muslim propaganda operates in America today.
“Prince Among Slaves” is a project of UPF, the Unity Productions Foundation. UPF was created by Safi Qureshey, a Pakistani computer tycoon. Its budget is in the millions and is connected to a number of high profile Islamic PBS productions such as “Islam: Empire of Faith”, “Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think” and “Ground Zero Dialogue”.
The public faces of UPF are Alex Kroenmer and Michael Wolfe, Muslim converts who pull down roughly 200,000 dollar salaries for their work at UPF. Both Kroenmer and Wolfe are the products of Christian-Jewish interfaith marriages. Wolfe describes this as “my mongrel background” and writes that he was “repelled” by Christianity.
Kroenmer and Wolfe have served as producers for these features, including “Prince Among Slaves”, “Talking Through Walls: How the Struggle to Build a Mosque United a Community” and “Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain”. Additionally Kroenmer participates as a trainer in Connecting Cultures, his Muslim wife’s diversity training program.
The majority of these films were directed by Rob Gardner who went from Holocaust films to documentaries glorifying Islamic civilization. UPF and Gardner’s latest collaboration is “My Fellow American”, a movie and campaign promoting the Muslim presence in America.
Despite the available contradictory material demonstrating that Prince Abdul Rahman was a Muslim racist who despised Africans, “Prince of Slaves” won Best Documentary at the American Black Film Festival for two years running, and aired on PBS during Black History Month. Oddly though the American Black Film Festival site lists entirely different movies as the winners for those years.
“Prince of Slaves” received major funding from the National Endowment for Humanities, an agency of the United States government. And it aired on PBS, which also receives government funds.
One of the Muslim clerics featured in the movie, Zaid Shakir, was caught threatening the destruction of the United States last year. Another, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, had proclaimed three days before September 11, “This country unfortunately has a great, a great tribulation coming to it. And much of it is already here, yet people are too illiterate to read the writing on the wall.”
But then it seems only appropriate that a documentary which promotes a Muslim racist and murderer of their people to African-Americans as a leader and role model, should also be funded by the very country that the Muslim clerics and their Islamic ideology seeks to destroy.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.