- Title: EGYPT: Egyptian security forces clash with pig farmers in Cairo
- Date: 4th May 2009
- Summary: CAIRO, EGYPT (MAY 3, 2009) (REUTERS) CROWD STANDING IN FRONT OF BARRIER OF BURNING GARBAGE WITH SECURITY FORCES IN BACKGROUND RIOT POLICE IN DISTANCE CROWD STANDING BEHIND BURNING BARRIER OF GARBAGE
- Embargoed: 19th May 2009 13:00
- Location: Egypt
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACYSM1XR9LGV5IUAY3NUZ392BG
- Story Text: Egyptian security forces clashed with pig farmers in Cairo today who tried to prevent the authorities from confiscating their pigs, which are to be killed in a nation-wide cull of the animals.
Several people were injured in the clashes which took place in the largely Coptic Christian area of Manshiyet Nasser in south Cairo, where many of the residents work in the pig farming industry.
One man said he was shot with rubber bullets during the clashes.
"While I was walking they [the police] began shooting at me using rubber bullets, and they used tear gas. They attacked us and destroyed our homes and insulted our religion," he said.
As the day wore on, residents of the largely impoverished area created barriers using burning garbage to keep hundreds of riot police at bay.
Some claimed that the security forces had intentionally destroyed cars in the area, while security sources said the residents had destroyed their own property.
"They see a car belonging to a Christian, going to church, and the government, the government of our country, they is supposed to ensure security, broke it," said one man.
The Egyptian authorities have ordered a cull of all of the pigs in Egypt, some 300 - 400,000 animals, as a safety precaution to prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus which health officials fear may cause a global flu pandemic.
But officials belonging to the World Health Organization have criticized Egypt's decision to cull the country's pigs, saying the measure will not prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus as pigs are not believed to be carriers of the virus.
Pig farmer Marzouk Badr Adli said that non-infected pigs should not be slaughtered.
"Mister, the pigs are not infected even in the country where the illness is present - they didn't kill any [pigs], they gave the pigs medical treatment. If the pigs are infected, take samples from them, and we will kill them to protect ourselves. But if there is no infection, this is our livelihood," he said.
The majority of pig farmers are Coptic Christian, with many also working as garbage collectors. They earn their income by selling recycled garbage, and also use the garbage they collect to feed their pigs.
There are conflicting to reports as to what monetary compensation the Egyptian authorities will give to pig farmers, many of whom have no other source of income.
Another man, Samaan Riyad Tawfiq said that they were not against the government slaughtering their pigs, but that they had not been compensated.
"They are shooting at us with tear gas - who can put up with this? And they cursed our religion - who can put up with that? There are military vehicles over there, do you see? Film them the military vehicle up there. A person has been shot, and they destroyed our cars, and a car was lit on fire, and look up there at the military truck that has been chasing. We don't disagree with them taking the pigs. But they took them without giving us any compensation. This is our livelihood, so how can we work? Where we will throw our garbage," he said.
Egyptian health officials began confiscating and slaughtering pigs on Thursday, and the cull of all of the country's pigs is supposed to take up to a month.
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