News / Middle East

Secret Life of Egyptian Pigs

The Secret Life of Egyptian Pigsi
X
May 17, 2013 2:19 PM
Pigs once played an important economic role for Cairo's Coptic Christians and helped keep the Egyptian capital clean. Now, after a controversial culling, they are making a return. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo
Pigs once played an important economic role for Cairo's Coptic Christians and helped keep the Egyptian capital clean. Now, after a controversial culling, they are making a return.
Elizabeth Arrott
Pigs once played an important economic role for Cairo's Coptic Christians, and helped keep the capital clean. Now, after a controversial culling, they are making a return.

A city of 18 million people produces a lot of trash. Much of Cairo's ends up in a Coptic Christian enclave called Garbage City, where people recycle just about everything. Lately, they are getting help from a secret source.

Tucked behind mountains of trash and a wall of flies is a pen full of pigs - the ultimate in organic waste management - and they are making a small, clandestine comeback.

The government ordered all pigs killed in 2009 saying they posed a health hazard, even though world health officials disagreed. Yet some farmers managed to help their stock escape culling.  

Few Egyptians acknowledge they are here. But those in charge of recycling argue their importance.

Adel Ragi, who is on the board of the garbage collectors union. explained that non-human organic waste makes up half of Egypt's garbage. "The pig gets rid of it."   

Since the culling, Cairo has become far dirtier. Foreign companies have been hired to handle some of the trash, but Ragi said their methods of dumping waste in landfills is much worse for the environment.

Economically, the culling left thousands of pig farmers without jobs. And only a few butchers remain, relying on expensive imports that have cut down on their customer base.  

Christians are free to eat pork, and farmers have built a new slaughterhouse in hope the trade will be revived. But the government has yet to approve it.

Butcher Saiid Hakim said officials tell them to be patient, which makes him wonder if the government is against approving the new facility. "We can't understand not having the slaughterhouse," he said,  "because pigs are here."

Father Samaan Ibrahim, of the St. Samaan church carved into the hills above Garbage City, thinks he knows why a Christian custom is suppressed in a Muslim-majority land.

They consider pigs unclean, he said, calling it "a form of blind intolerance."  

He denied there are pigs in Garbage City, but sees no reason there should not be.

He asked what is wrong with pigs - they are God's creations. He asked that those who work with pigs and eat them be left in peace.

In some ways, the pigs are being left in peace. Even though the current government has a strong Islamist bent, it has not been able to exert much control over basic regulations. So the pigs will likely carry on - as long as they stay out of sight.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs