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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid