Killing the Pigs

For Americans of a certain generation the phrase “Kill the Pig” is reminder of a bygone era, embarrassing, comical and childishly futile. For Egyptians of recent vintage it is deadly serious. A few years ago, a hysteria about swine flu overtook the country.  It was totally manufactured and it resulted in the killing of practically every pig (the actual animal) in Egypt, with an almost sadistic relish. Muslims, like Jews, view pigs as unclean, and only Christians own them. Specifically the Coptic group “Zabaleen” who are the universal trash collectors/recycling agents in Egypt. These are people at the lowest rung of the economic ladder yet maintain a dignified and productive life (They were the subject of a recent movie by the same name). Some years ago the Mubarak government, in a fit of corruption, tried to take away their livelihood by awarding expensive contracts to ineffectual foreign companies. Now President Mursi, in his first official exhortation to the people of Egypt, is asking them to “pick up the garbage”. No one can disagree with the goal, except in that the people most able to deal with the issue, as well as most affected, are completely sidelined. The dog whistle implicit in it is very clear. As clear as the pigs are dead.

Discrimination comes in a thousand guises.

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