CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian veterinary authorities continued with a nationwide programme to slaughter the country’s entire pig population on Monday, a day after clashes erupted with protesting pig farmers.
Police were deployed in force around the Cairo slum district of Manshiyet Nasr where hundreds of residents, mostly Coptic Christian rubbish recyclers known as zebaleen, on Sunday fought running battles with police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
“The culling has continued today in Manshiyet Nasr, three trucks have already taken pigs to be culled,” Ishak Mikhail, who heads the Muqattam Rubbish Collectors Association, told AFP. Each truck took around 70 pigs, he said.
“The zebaleen will comply with the state’s decision, the proof is that pigs have been taken today,” he said.
Egypt began the slaughter of the nation’s 250,000 pigs in earnest on Saturday, despite the World Health Organisation saying there was no evidence the animals were transmitting swine flu to humans.
The authorities are calling the slaughter a general health measure. No cases of swine flu, or influenza A(H1N1), have been reported in Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world.
Egypt’s pigs mostly belong to and are eaten by members of Egypt’s Coptic minority and are reared by rubbish collectors in Cairo’s shantytowns. Islam bans the consumption of pork for the country’s majority Muslims.