so, egypt is slaughtering it's entire population of an estimated 350,000 pigs amidst fears of "swine flu".
perhaps, as i did, you initially imagined these pigs to be part of a minority livestock industry within the country, much as india, though majority hindu and anti-cattle-killing, nonetheless supports a small beef and leather industry run mainly by ethnic and religious minorities.
these pigs are the privately owned animals of coptic--an ethnic and religious minority--salvage workers. These people, an estimated population of one million, make their livelihood collecting garbage, sorting it, and reselling it as recyclables and scrap. the pigs allow this process to continue by eating the millions of tons of "wet" waste and themselves provide highly valuable food to the families who keep them.
now, despite the fact that, thus far, the country has had neither a confirmed nor a suspected case of the mis-named flu, i can imagine a scenario wherein, during a world-wide pandemic, the close association of humans and swine could cause some problems but this is not what is happening. it is not happening now, people far more educated than i am predict that it is unlikely to happen, and the world health organization itself is calling this slaughter wasteful and unnecessary.
so, since we are currently acting in the realm of baseless and potentially irresponsible speculation, i have one of my own, which is that we should call this what it is, the first step in a program of ethnic cleansing aimed at a minority community. *
that is apparently what the coptic salvage workers think, that the seizure and wholesale slaughter of their livestock is the first step of a movement to disband their communities.
whatever your initial reaction may be to the human-pig sanitation situation in Egypt as it is, do you think the country has the infrastructure to support alternative disposal of the millions of tons of organic waste that are not going be dealt with once the pigs are gone?
how about one million displaced people who currently have homes and a sustainable livelihood?
i suspect little thought has been given outside of the hope that the population--human and swine--will be "removed" entirely. these people are social second-class citizens subsisting on work that is too "dirty" for the majority, and the "swine flu" is an exceptionally convenient excuse to remove an element of their sustenance that is considered, by the majority (including the government), to be morally reprehensible.
...is there nothing about this that feels all-too-familiar?
*while my baseless and potentially irresponsible speculation may be distasteful to some, let me point out that mine hasn't lead to the wasteful, needless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of animals or to depriving a million people of a necessary, subsistence source of labor and food.
AND ANOTHER THING...pigs are highly adaptable omnivores. Sus scrofa in particular has evolved alongside humankind for at least 8,500 years, during which it has become adapted to feeding on human offal. there is nothing inherently "dirty" or "unnatural" about the close association between the salvage workers and these animals, or about the work they do "recycling" the massive amounts of garbage produced by an urbanized, industrializing country with few if any alternative disposal systems in place.