Egypt’s religious swine killings and unreligious lies

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One hundred pigs thrown into a dumpster, gassed and buried in lime. A video posted on the Internet over the weekend by Al-Masri Al Yom, an online daily, gives a further insight into Egypt’s deliberate elimination of its pig population. The operation, which comes after the World Health Organization had identified the A/H1N1 flu virus and announced that humans were not at risk of contamination from animals, has given rise to strong criticisms.

A film showing the destruction of pigs in Egypt has caused an uproar. The independent daily, Al-Masri Al-Yom, this weekend posted a video on YouTube that many may find shocking: a hundred pigs thrown into a dumpster, gassed and buried in lime. Egypt continues to massacre its pig population to guard against the A/H1N1 influenza, even though the World Health Organization (WHO) has not identified a single case of direct contamination from pigs to humans.

This unprecedented measure has provoked strong reactions in the country. Both Muslim and Christian intellectuals have accused President Hosni Mubarak for supporting the Islamist opposition Muslim Brotherhood who have been campaigning against pigs in “Islam-land.” About 10 per cent of the Egyptian population is made up of Coptic Christians who consume pork products. Leaders of the three Egyptian churches, have described the elimination of “live” pigs as “barbaric and ruthless”. According to Fathi Sorour, Speaker of Parliament, the killing of pigs must be done in a more “civilised way”, reported Al Masri Al-Yom.

A video of the pig massacre in Egypt

“The pigs are sprayed with chemicals and left for 30 to 40 minutes to die after which they are thrown into a pit”

Unreligious lies

Mohamed el-Mougharbil, deputy mayor of Khassous, near Cairo, is seen in the video explaining how the animals are crammed into trucks before being sprayed with chemicals, slowly causing their death. “The pigs are sprayed with chemicals and left for 30 to 40 minutes to die after which they are thrown into a pit,” said the head of the discharge, Ali Shaaban. The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture has denied the claims, according to them the chemicals are “disinfectants. Pigs are slaughtered before being buried,” head of the department for infectious diseases, Saber Abdel Aziz Gala, told the AFP.

But as seen in the film, animals thrown into the lime do not show any trace of blood. In her report, Heba Nasredine, a journalist with the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Hebdo, corroborates Saber Abdel Aziz Gala’s account of the mass slaughter. She however notes that “only boars are killed in accordance with the rules (Islamic).” “Piglets and sows are knocked down with an iron bar and left to bleed until they die in their owners’ vehicles,” she says. But again, the vidoe shows a different story.

Farmers and Copts are hardest hit

Farmers have been hardest hit by this decision from the government. Besides the slaughter of pigs, they say they are dissatisfied with the scanty compensations awarded by the State. Compensation for a healthy animal is set at 100 Egyptian pounds (equivalent to 0.13 cents of an Euro). “A healthy pig weighs between 80 and 110 kilos. The price per kilo is between 12 and 15 Egyptian Pounds with a profit margin of about 5 egyptian Pounds. It is obvious that, with such compensations, we have lost money,” Guirguis, owner of a piggery, explained to Al-Ahram Hebdo. The hardest hit by this measure are pig farmers and Coptic Christians and as rightly put by the Moroccan writer, Tahar Ben Jelloun, “they are victims of the A/H1N1 flu without having been contaminated.”

Also read: Egypt persecutes Christian pig farmers in the name of swine flu

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