Sunday, May 03, 2009

Egypt's pig slaughter and meat as a political tool

Despite expert opinion that swine flu is not spread by the direct consumption of pig meat (read post about how factory farming does, however, inadvertently cause such diseases), the Egyptian government has started killing Egypt's estimated 300,000 to 350,000 pigs in an effort to prevent an outbreak.

The forceful slaughter is against the will of the pig farmers, and opposed to the recommendations of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, who say this move is an unnecessary and ineffective way to contain the disease. Violent protests and tensions are emerging between Egypt's majority Muslims (who do not consume pig products) and its Coptic Christians, who are the major constituents of the pig farmers and believe the government is using swine flu as a way to disenfranchise them. Obviously, the culling is also against the will of the pigs, though it is hard to say whether this systematic slaughter--which is expected to take one month to execute fully--is more or less brutal than what the pigs would endure through the normal course of their path to slaughter.

There seems to be an emerging relationship between animal slaughter and people of low socioeconomic status, reminiscent of the immigrant workers abuse that occurred at an American slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa last year. The Christians in Egypt are overwhelmingly poor and perceived as doing the "dirty" work of the county. It seems that the job of raising and slaughtering animals often falls on some of the poorest and most marginalized groups of people, indicating the many levels on which the practice is exploitive and dehumanizing.

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