CAIRO: While it hasn’t reached its shores yet, the H1N1 virus – swine flu – has taken hold of Egypt’s blogs, where a lively online debate has emerged about the ethics and wisdom of a decision to cull Egypt’s 350,000 pigs.
While an Egyptian health ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahin admitted to AFP on Thursday that the decision is a “general health measure rather than a precautionary move, some bloggers continue to insist that the cull is necessary.
“Those dirty pigs should be eliminated as soon as possible, we can’t jeopardize the life of millions for no good reason, blogger Zeinobia proclaims on Egyptian Chronicles in a post entitled, “Kill them all.
“Already you can’t imagine how those pigs live or where [sic] they live, they do not suffer yet from H1N1 but for sure the unhealthy environment they live in will make them suffer from other diseases. Our pigs are ugly black filthy pigs eating from garbage and have that awful smell, if you do not believe it, then hit the road to Sixth of October through the Mehwar [26th of July Corridor which overlooks pig farms] and you will know what I am speaking about, even if you close your car’s windows and open the AC, you will still smell it!
Per Bjorklund, writing on “Egypt and Beyond responds to Zeinobia: “[The] ultimate source of that ‘awful smell’ you feel when you drive on the Mehwar to the Sixth of October city in your AC-equipped car is not the pigs, but your garbage, Bjorklund writes.
“The pig farms surely aren’t sanitary and in the long run something should be done about this, but they are also performing an essential service for many of the more affluent inhabitants of Cairo. In my humble opinion, what is needed is sustainable solutions to a broad range of interconnected health and sanitary issues, not stupid slogans like ‘Kill ’em all’ that don’t really solve anything.
Bjorklund quotes a garbage collector he spoke to who told him that criticisms of the pig farms is led by “influential people who want our land to build expensive apartments. They take this opportunity to get rid of us once for all.
While blogger Abu El Maaly Fayeq, of the Loqmet Aysh blog, asks people to inform the authorities of farmers who may be hiding pigs.
Mostafa Hussein of moftasa.net calls the cull “the most gruesome act of unjustifiable killing of animals I will ever witness.
He points out that “Swine flu will enter Egypt through its borders and not from pigs, saying “the funds that will go in compensating farmers can be better directed to improve the appalling sanitation of the pig farms and the conditions of their farmers.
Fustat asks on the Twitter instant messaging service, “How do you explain to your people the day the virus enters Egypt (human to human) that all the precautions you took didn’t help?
He adds that “Trying to reassure society, by a measure that does not provide any real protection, is really making things worse.
Zeinab writing on the Bent Masreyya (Egyptian Girl) blog says, “What bothers me is that these are God’s creatures, and they will be slain without having done anything wrong… I don’t have to point out that I’m Muslim and know that pigs are haram. But I also know that the killing and hunting of animals without cause is haram.
One aspect of the debate which has emerged surrounds alleged sectarian motivations behind the cull: the vast majority of Egypt’s pig farmers are Christian.
Mango Girl, writing on the Kafr El-Hanadwa blog reacts to a Muslim Brotherhood member’s comment that swine flu “is more serious than the hydrogen bomb.
“Remember when the bird flu hit Egypt and the MB parliamentarians were all responsible and sober and carried out public health outreach and information to calm the hysteria about eating chicken? Mango Girl writes.
“Turns out they are quite willing to let their religious prejudices trump their scientific judgment when the flu carriers are pigs.
Mango Girl wonders whether “the MB bothers with the same kind of outreach [as that carried out for Bird Flu] for swine flu when those likely to be affected are mainly Christian garbage collectors.
Zeinobia rejects accusations that sectarian motivations lie behind the cull.
“It is ridiculous and irresponsible to claim that this decision was taken for religious reasons because you have to know that the Christian Church as I repeated thousand times has agreed and supports the government decision.
“Now it amazed me that for some Christians it is OK to listen to the Pope’s order to vote for Mubarak but when he supports a decision for the best interest of all Egyptians, some are deaf!
One of the strangest contributions to the debate appears on Moheet.com, an Egyptian-Emirati news network site.
An article entitled “Dirty, wife-swapping, group sex enthusiasts – rather than alluding to the latest political sex scandal – describes pigs’ degenerate lifestyle, and the risk they pose to humans who eat them.
“Pigs transfer to humans who eat its flesh pigs’ bad habits and harmful traits such as insensitivity to feelings and lack of jealousy over their wife.
“Scientists have discovered that pigs are the only animals which don’t display jealousy over their wives: when a pig sees his wife having sexual intercourse with another male pig, he doesn’t attack it and isn’t concerned.
Some use this to explain the absence of jealousy in some western peoples who sanction the consumption of pork.
“Scientific inspections have established that pigs engage in group sex. Unfortunately, this bad habit has also spread in Western society.