Egyptian football player Mohammed Salah has slammed suggestions from Egyptian officials that the country should consider exporting dog meat to East Asia to reduce the population of stray animals.
On Monday evening, Salah posted a selfie of himself with his two Siamese cats on Facebook with the caption: “Dogs and cats will not be exported anywhere. This will not happen and cannot happen.” The pictures have been shared over 11,000 times.
The post follows an online campaign launched by animal rights activists to the protest against the comments of Deputy of the Human Rights Committee in Parliament Margaret Azer, who suggested in parliament last month that exporting the meat to nations such as South Korea, where it is considered a delicacy, would be a more humane way of dealing with the number of stray dogs in Egypt.
She criticised current solutions, which include mass shootings and castration, arguing that the benefits of this plan would be two fold, in reducing the likelihood of stray dogs attacking people on the street, and providing an additional source of revenue to the Egyptian economy.
Yesterday, the former Head of Al-Azhar’s Fatwa Committee Abdel Hameed Al-Atrash also claimed that it was permissible for Muslims to eat cats and dogs on a phone-in show on television. Al-Atrash added that “the export of dogs and cats is halal, as long as the laws of the country agree to that,” a view that contradicts mainstream religious opinion.
The suggestion has also been met with strong opposition in the government. Parliamentarian Abdel Rehim Ali warned on Monday that such a proposal could lead to an environmental imbalance.
On Sunday, the Agriculture Ministry spokesperson denied that Egypt had any plans to export stray dogs or cats, adding that animals which leave the country are subject to strict regulations.
MP Nadia Henry also submitted an urgent request to the parliament speaker on Saturday to prepare a bill that would criminalises the export of dogs and cats outside.
Hashtags have also been set up to rally public support, including “No to violating animal rights”, which was used by Salah, and “Against exporting dogs”.
Wen need to keep retweeting This hashtag Dogs and cats cannot be exported They are not Food we need to stop those Evil People From Exporting them #ضد_تصدير_الحيوانات_لقتلها_او_تعذيبها #ضدد_تصدير_الكلاب #fight_egyptian_cats_and_dogs
— Sarah Fala (@Sarah_Fala) November 27, 2018
Egypt has a very weak animal rights infrastructure, with only a few laws stipulating the protection of domestic animals in vague terms. Complaints of abuse are also often disregarded by the authorities, who do not take such cases seriously. This has led to the establishment of several organisations calling for the protection of animals, and in particular strays.
In November 2017, the Animal Rights Committee called for stronger legislation protecting animals to be passed through parliament, and announced that it was discussing a draft law that would stipulate the rights of the animal to be fed, watered and receive adequate healthcare. However it has not yet been passed by the country’s parliament.