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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid