While the rest of the world moves on from H1N1 (aka swine flu), Egypt continues its slaughter of pigs, though so far they’ve only killed about 20,000 or so out of an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 pigs.
This blog post is a bit old, but an Egyptian blogger named Mostafa provides a local perspective here.
And an article yesterday from Reuters discusses how the mass slaughter is flaming sectarian tension. Reuters says that Cairo’s Christian garbage collectors and pig farmers are being paid only 100LE (about $17.79) per pig, rather than the 1000LE originally promised.
Swine flu fever is sweeping the world, and Egypt has its own version of this insanity. You may have seen the news reports of the mass slaughter of pigs now happening here in Egypt. (The New York Times has a good story which gives some context for this slaughter.) The latest news is that some farmers are fighting back; there have been several injuries and arrests.
The World Health Organization has criticized this slaughter, and they and the CDC assure us that people can’t get swine flu from pigs. In fact, they renamed swine flu to Influenza A to avoid the impression that people are catching this thing from pigs. So why the slaughter?
It has to do with religion, class, and politics here in Egypt. The pig farmers are also the Christian minority, the underclass. And many of these pigs are owned and raised by the Zebaleen, the Christian garbage collectors. Muslims don’t (usually) eat pork (well, some do, with gusto, but you know what I mean). Some of the Gulf Countries actually ban pigs completely, but not Egypt. But, many Muslims regard pigs as unclean–and not just unclean but nasty and filthy.
Some folks are chattering that this is just an excuse to ban pigs. And many Egyptians seem truly to believe that you can catch this thing from pigs–I heard this from a well-educated person just today. The government has responded to some of the criticism by suggesting this is just a health precaution rather than a swine flu preventative, but the damage is done.
Pigs are dying, and not necessarily in humane ways, and Christian pig farmers are losing their livelihood.
I don’t even eat pork. But it’s impossible to see how slaughtering 400,000 pigs is making Egypt a better place.
My dad emailed the other day and speculated that because I hadn’t blogged in a while, I must be busy. This is only partly true. I’m not especially busier than usual, but I do Twitter a lot, which apparently satisfies many of my communication needs.
I also get impatient uploading photos to both Facebook and Flickr (where I host photos for this blog), with my slow internet, so sometimes I stop after Facebook. And I always feel I owe you all some photos, from Ethiopia and now from our recent beach trip, which means sometimes I don’t blog rather than blog without photos (silly I know).
I also lost some steam last fall, when some important people in life got pretty angry with me over some stuff they had read on my blog (don’t bother looking for it; it won’t be obvious). Even though I plunged into NaBloPoMo, I felt a bit gun shy. I started a blog to keep folks up-to-date on our life in Egypt, but it also means that people don’t necessarily have to be in touch with me directly to know what’s going on. And this was bad last fall.
And, frankly, now that we’re pretty settled, both in Egypt and with our kids, there’s a lot less to say. Most of the time.
Explanations aside, here’s what’s going on.
Our puppy is growing and doing really well. We went back to visit his mother a few weeks ago, and I was surprised that he’s almost as big as she is. He now weighs in at a robust eight pounds (or so). Earlier this week, we met his father, and Mister Puppy looks just like his Jack Russell terrier dad except Mister Puppy’s coloring is a bit lighter. He’s sweet, healthy, fun, and pretty easy. Bug and Giggle adore him. Sometimes too much. For example, right now, Giggle is hugging Mister Puppy and “helping” him dance.
It’s beach weather in Egypt, and the boys and I spent Easter Sunday at Ain Soukhna with some good friends (Mr. Four had to work). Bug got stung by a jellyfish. He screamed for probably 20 minutes or more. He appears to have gained a lifelong hatred of jellyfish.
Over the long weekend of Coptic Easter (a week after the western Easter), we went with some other friends to a beach near Ras Sudr, Egypt. We brought Mister Puppy. Turns out that Mister Puppy loves playing in the sand as much as Bug and Giggle do.
In other news: we have now booked our plane tickets for our home leave to the US this summer. We’ll be visiting Mr. Four’s family in his hometown, plus dashing all over our home state, to College Town, the beach, and the mountains. Mister Puppy will be joining us.
Booking those tickets meant accepting we’ll be back in Egypt a third year. Which is good, mostly, but a bit disappointing given that this spring it looked like we might have the opportunity to move this summer either to southern Africa or the Caribbean–neither panned out. Which is all for the best, but, you know.
Coming up: Pigs! Swine flu! Windsurfing!