Monday, October 14, 2013

Letters from Egypt: Sacrificial Lamb

If you thought you were imagining the sound of a lamb coming from your neighbor’s flat, chances are you weren’t. Muslims across the world make a sacrifice for Eid al Adha with some estimates claiming the slaughtering of around 100 million animals worldwide. With approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, if that figure is correct it would mean one animal per 16 Muslims. And yes, you will even find the animal being held inside a flat in some cases.

I remember my first Eid al Adha and a friend told me, “Whatever you do, don’t leave your house that day.” That piece of advice is something that I often regurgitate to newcomers. So here’s your 2013 Eid al Adha warning: Do not leave your house from Tuesday 6 am until early afternoon, unless of course you don’t mind the scene.

Last year I watched as a microbus pulled up to my building and unloaded a sheep which my boaba (door woman) promptly took control. Not even 10 minutes later, my bowab (doorman) slaughtered the animal leaving behind a nice trail of blood for all the tenants to walk through. Not ideal, but that can be easily cleaned with a water hose.

The slaughter of an animal is divided among the purchaser and his family, his other friends and extended family and finally a portion goes to the poor. There are specifications to carry out the ritual in a halal manner, but sometimes I have to wonder if the majority of Egypt adheres to the criteria. My bowab did not wash away the blood nor did he dispose of the unwanted innards. Instead, he set off to his own village while the innards remained out and about in public viewing for a couple of days.

Something else that happens in full force, even more than usual, is harassment. Why do holidays in Egypt mean a significant increase in harassment? I’ve been asking everyone because in particular, this celebration appears to be more problematic than the big feast (Eid el Fitr) signaling the end of Ramadan. In years past, hotlines cropped up to help establish a network of reporting harassment during Eid al Adha. Unfortunately, there are no such reports for this year’s feast.

The Daily News Egypt featured an article in mid-August discussing new, worrisome trends in Egypt’s battle against harassment: lower ages and a lack of remorse. The perpetrators are getting younger every year, but the biggest problem is that when caught committing sexual harassment, they will instead stand up giving reasons as to why it was okay to grab a woman.

I know I’ve discussed harassment numerous times on this blog, but for some of you newbies, it needs to be ingrained: stay aware of your surroundings. It doesn’t matter what you wear, despite what others may say. It doesn’t matter if you are in a group or even with another man. So if you’re still in town, be on guard. Try not to walk late at night and in Maadi, particularly avoid the Shell Shop area in Degla (including around CAC). Other places to avoid a leisurely walk include Burger Joint and Port Said St.

And again, unless you want to see a bunch of animals being killed STAY IN YOUR HOME TOMORROW.

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