Friday, May 01, 2009

here go the stupid....,

NYTimes | Egypt has begun forcibly slaughtering the country’s pig herds as a precaution against swine flu, a move that the United Nations described as “a real mistake” and one that is prompting anger among the country’s pig farmers.

The decision, announced Wednesday, is already adding new strains to the tense relations between Egypt’s majority Muslims and its Coptic Christians. Most of Egypt’s pig farmers are Christians, and some accuse the government of using swine flu fears to punish them economically.

According to World Health Organization officials, the decision to kill pigs has no scientific basis. “We don’t see any evidence that anyone is getting infected from pigs,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, the World Health Organization’s assistant director general. “This appears to be a virus which is moving from person to person.”

The outbreak has been dubbed swine flu — now officially called influenza A(H1N1) — because scientists believe it started in pigs, but they do not know if that was recently or years ago. The name change was designed to allay fears about pigs and eating pork.

Egypt has not reported any cases of the new virus that has hit 11 other nations, but the country has been hard hit by avian flu.

The great majority of Egyptians are Muslim and do not eat pork because of religious restrictions, but about 10 percent of the population is Coptic Christian. As a result, Egyptian pig farmers are overwhelmingly Christian. And although some of the country’s Christians are middle class or wealthy, the Christian farmers are generally poor.

On Thursday, several urban pig farmers in Cairo said they see the government’s decision as just another expression of Egyptian Muslims’ resentment against Christians. Last year, there were several violent incidents that some believed were aimed at Christians, including the kidnapping and beating of monks. The Egyptian government denied the incidents had sectarian overtones, saying they were each part of other disputes, including a fight over land.