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Egypt persecutes Christian pig farmers in the name of swine flu

Muslim majority country seeks reasons to kill off ’unreligious’ animals

ICC Note

“The decision to cull them [the pigs] was probably taken only because they belong to the Christians.”

05/04/2009 Egypt (afrik.com)-Following the world wide Swine flu scare, Egyptian police officers were deployed to a slum in Cairo , with a mandate to slaughter every swine. However, the poor pig farmers will not give up their sources of livelihood without a fight.

About 200 policemen surrounded the pig farmers neighborhood on Sunday backed by a half dozen police trucks. But a crowd of 1,000 irate Egyptian pig farmers armed with stones and bottles took positions in front of their pig farms, daring to protect their pigs. When the farmers blocked the road leading to their pig pens, they began to aim rocks and bottles at the police officers, who responded by charging down at the farmers in armored cars and firing tear gas.

300 000 pigs

This event comes a week after the Egyptian government ordered the slaughter of all the country’s 300,000 pigs even though no cases of swine flu have been reported in the country. Egyptian animal rights activist Amina Abaza deplored the slaughter of pigs and said “the decision to cull them was probably taken only because they belong to the Christians.”

Changed alibi

But the garbage collectors who engage in pig farming are all Christians, who make up the minority of the society, and with no other source of livelihood available to them, or assured them, observers have questioned the intent of the health authorities in Egypt , raising charges or religious persecution. According to Joseph*, in a country where “Egyptians who decide to convert from Islam to Christianity are faced with harsh state discrimination besides not being able to change their religious affiliation on national ID cards although converts from Christianity to Islam are not faced with the same legal issues (…) this decision from the government shows the disdain the authorities habour for Christians”.

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