(May 26, 2009) In order to combat bird and swine flu, on April 29, 2009, the People's Assembly of Egypt passed a law regulating the trade in live poultry. During the same session, the Parliament also ordered the executive branch to kill all 300,000 pigs in the country.
As a precautionary measure to combat bird flu (known as H5N1), the Egyptian Parliament passed the Law on the Prohibition of Sale and Purchase of Live Poultry, which grants the Ministry of Agriculture, in conjunction with the security apparatus of the country, the authority to confiscate and slaughter poultry infected with H5N1 virus. Article 1 of the new Law aims at banning the trade in all kinds of live poultry in specific regions in Egypt where there are a number of cases of bird flu. Article 3 of the Law imposes enhanced penalties against violators, including individuals and corporations. The Law orders the immediate closure of stores selling infected birds; the closure will last for three months. Moreover, it stipulates a final closure of stores selling infected birds if the owners of these stores violate the law for a second time. The Law provides for a penalty against violators of not less than 16 months of imprisonment, and/or a fine of between 1,000 and 10,000 Egyptian pounds (about US$170 to $1,769). (A Discussion Concerning the Law on the Prohibition of Sale and Purchase of Live Poultry [مناقشة قانون الاتجار في الطيور و الدواجن الحية], AL GOMHURIA, Apr. 28, 2009, available at http://www.gom.com.eg/algomhuria/2009/04/28/thirdp/detail00.shtml.)
Following the April 29 order issued by the Parliament, despite the fact that no cases of swine flu (H1N1) have been reported in Egypt, the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Security, began confiscating and slaughtering all pigs in the country. The decision to slaughter the pigs has negatively impacted Christian garbage collectors, who are the main pig breeders in the country and whose primary income is generated from raising the animals. The actions have prompted accusations that the government has targeted the Christian minority. (Swine Flu Causes a Conflict Between the Legislative and Executive Branches of the Government [ انفلونزا الخنازيرتحدث ازمة بين المجلس والحكومة], AL AHRAM , Apr. 29, 2009, available at http://www.ahram.org.eg/archive/Index.as