One day we had to travel with our host into the narrow back alleys of Nazlet el Samaan to go see a friend on business. We knew his friend was at one of the small slaughterhouse butchers to see his friend there. It was too hot to stay inside the car. The butchery was a corner building and was as if the bottom two corner rooms of the house had been opened up completely for access, with pull-down shutters for nightime.
All surfaces looked as though they may have been tiled new with large white tiles a hundred years ago. Now all the chipped and broken surfaces except the floor - were covered with filth.
The floor rolled away for its short 8 - 10 feet depth to a trough running the length of the working space, then to an open sewer drain.
The floor was awash with blood, which a young guy was lazily swilling down with a water hosepipe. Along the wall was the working bench with angry iron hooks above. A cow had just been slaughtered and hunks of its carcase decorated the dirty tiles of the tiled stone bench. The smell was terrible.
We had not yet become normalised to this normal village sight, but it was something else that really caught our attention. There was another cow tethered in the roadway just in front of this open butchery. It was to be next for the chop. However a couple of inhumanities were abundantly clear. The cow was emaciated, clearly exhausted, carried the wounds of whip and other bad treatment, and was tethered so close to the concrete block on the ground that it could barely raise its head more than a couple of inches from the ground. To complete the scene, children were tormenting it.
Judith and I immediately intervened to stop the kids actions. We were incredulous that although the cow was to be killed, it was being treated with such callous cruelty.
We have been astonished over and over and over again when we see such examples of cruelty. We know the Quran speaks against this. We know the Quran is followed with absolute respect. But we know for animals, the Holy Book is disobeyed throughout Egypt and the animals suffer terribly as a result.
We sought out our host and his friend. We discovered the cow would be kept tethered 'inside' the butchery and slaughtered in the morning. We remonstrated with the butcher on all the points I have spoken of and demanded immediate dignity. The tether was slackened, water was brought and the cow drank for the whole of Egypt ! We were promised on the Quran that the animal would be protected from the children and would be tethered as comfortable as possible overnight, with water. I went to the head of the cow and I felt the hairs rise over my arms and the whole of my body and I swear there was a look in the eyes of the creature that was way beyond the shallow depth of the filth around us. I prayed for it to go peacefully when the time came, but what of the thousands and thousands of others slaughtered without compassion in the name of religion or otherwise when those festival days arrived!
How many men does it take to wrestle a cow to the ground to have its throat cut ?
And I guess for some it constitutes pretty wild entertainment !!
And the butcher's hooks are always waiting
And what about Donkeys !! We won't be showing you pictures of Donkeys being slaughtered, but we promise you a special feature later on Donkeys. I had the privilage when I lived for many years in the South of England, of visitng with my children to the Donkey sanctury. This huge place styled like a ranch, rescued and looked after abused donkeys and mules - into their retirement. The place was always a magnet for tourists who came, participated and sponsored the work.
So even though many years have passed I still have a clear picture in my mind of the sight of a liberated healthy donkey.
I can still picture a herd of a few dozen of them let out into the grass pasture in the morning, and all of them running around in pleasure like spring lambs.
I still have the vision of what a healthy animal should look like and the contrast is absolutely stomach-sickening to see the state of donkeys often in Cairo and Egypt. We have seen these strong hardy animals so many times buckling with the weight of a huge load on their back, bigger than themselves... and then with a big fat lazy callous lump of an owner somehow perched on top of the load with his obligitory whip in hand to beat the crap out of the half dead animal bearing them !!
In variuous guises we have seen this over and over, and it is never less sickening. Equally sickening is to get close to one of them when they are tethered for the night. God only knows what keeps them going, because their eyes show that the spirit has long since been beaten from them. They do keep going until they eventually drop dead, but any normal human being could see and feel the vacant shell that often remained in the meantime to be the expendable bearer of an owner's pure and brutal ignorance..
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