Arabs, Jews, and the Swine Flu

It is reported that the Egyptian government is aggressively combating any potential spread of the much dreaded Swine Flu virus. In fact it has so fiercely engaged in tackling this growing pandemic, their drastic methods have even caught the attention of some animal rights activists.

The activists' outrage centers around an infamous video on YouTube which depicts a few earnest Egypt sanitation workers bludgeoning hundreds of pigs to death with iron bars.

It is alleged that so far only twenty-six people have died in Egypt of the much dreaded disease, but apparently this is not stopping the government from taking the most aggressive measures to forestall the potentially devastating consequences of the virus spreading. Reportedly the plan is to have all the pigs in Egypt exterminated by the end of six months. One is almost tempted to think that the government of Egypt has literary issued a Fatwa against the unsuspecting pigs of the land. Yet truth is sometimes, as they say, stranger than fiction.

A Middle East news website has in fact reported that Sheikh Ahmad 'Ali 'Othman,  the superintendent of Da'wa affairs at the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, has indeed issued such a fatwa already, ordering that all pigs in Egypt be slaughtered. But the reasons behind this Fatwa have been deemed by the World Health Organization as not having a warranted scientific basis; its possible motivating factor may soon also come under international scrutiny.

It would be reasonable to assume that Egyptian officials are merely taking every possible measure to mitigate the country's impact of the H1N1 virus pandemic. At the same time, it has also been disclosed that Sheikh Ahmad 'Ali 'Othman  personally believes that one of the  reasons Islam forbids its followers from eating pork meat is because today's swine are the direct descendant of the patriarch Moses' fellow wilderness wanderers depicted in the Old Testament scriptures.

Mr. Othman craftily employs the Koran in support of his thesis. The latter relates how the prophet Muhammad strictly forbade his followers from eating swine meat.  Othman amplifies on this peculiar exegesis of the text by claiming that Jesus - considered a slightly minor prophet in Islamic culture - is also scheduled to participate in the slaughter of swine come the Day of Judgment. For Mr. Othman, this represents irrefutable proof that the wretched mammals are to be included as part of the Jewish genealogy.

Luckily, a semblance of common sense - if that is what one can call it - has prevailed.

After Mr. Othman offered his rather peculiar theological assessment, he was challenged by another prominent official, Sheikh 'Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, who flatly contradicted Sheikh Othman's assertion.

Sheikh Al-Hassan explained that the divine punishment which manifested itself in the form of a devolutionary mutation of sorts, against the transgressing Jews who were turned into swine, actually only affected a number of Moses' followers with whom Allah was very angry. Furthermore, those who were changed into pigs and apes, perished with their generation, and did not have occasion to engage in the act of copulation. Hence they did not leave any offspring from which there would be any such progeny occupying the pens of local farmers or roaming the Egyptian countryside today. Thus he declared Mr. Othman's claim of any Semitic ancestors born from victims of bad Jewish Karma, as it were, to be partly erroneous.

Sheikh Ahmad also emphasized that this was a highly unusual type of punishment from the Almighty, which in all likelihood, has not been repeated since. Oddly enough, he was not asked by his peers to comment on whether or not, in his own view, this unprecedented, "transformative" phase in Jewish history would have constituted a positive step forward in the evolutionary chain; after all, even one of the U.S. President's own advisors has gone so far as to compare a beauty contestant to the canine species.

Speaking of whom, one wonders if this bit of international news may serve as a reminder to president Obama, of the arguably insurmountable cultural and religious hurdles that must be negotiated, if one is to insist on a more tolerant approach from the nation of Israel towards its presumably peace loving and respectful Arab neighbors.
It is reported that the Egyptian government is aggressively combating any potential spread of the much dreaded Swine Flu virus. In fact it has so fiercely engaged in tackling this growing pandemic, their drastic methods have even caught the attention of some animal rights activists.

The activists' outrage centers around an infamous video on YouTube which depicts a few earnest Egypt sanitation workers bludgeoning hundreds of pigs to death with iron bars.

It is alleged that so far only twenty-six people have died in Egypt of the much dreaded disease, but apparently this is not stopping the government from taking the most aggressive measures to forestall the potentially devastating consequences of the virus spreading. Reportedly the plan is to have all the pigs in Egypt exterminated by the end of six months. One is almost tempted to think that the government of Egypt has literary issued a Fatwa against the unsuspecting pigs of the land. Yet truth is sometimes, as they say, stranger than fiction.

A Middle East news website has in fact reported that Sheikh Ahmad 'Ali 'Othman,  the superintendent of Da'wa affairs at the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, has indeed issued such a fatwa already, ordering that all pigs in Egypt be slaughtered. But the reasons behind this Fatwa have been deemed by the World Health Organization as not having a warranted scientific basis; its possible motivating factor may soon also come under international scrutiny.

It would be reasonable to assume that Egyptian officials are merely taking every possible measure to mitigate the country's impact of the H1N1 virus pandemic. At the same time, it has also been disclosed that Sheikh Ahmad 'Ali 'Othman  personally believes that one of the  reasons Islam forbids its followers from eating pork meat is because today's swine are the direct descendant of the patriarch Moses' fellow wilderness wanderers depicted in the Old Testament scriptures.

Mr. Othman craftily employs the Koran in support of his thesis. The latter relates how the prophet Muhammad strictly forbade his followers from eating swine meat.  Othman amplifies on this peculiar exegesis of the text by claiming that Jesus - considered a slightly minor prophet in Islamic culture - is also scheduled to participate in the slaughter of swine come the Day of Judgment. For Mr. Othman, this represents irrefutable proof that the wretched mammals are to be included as part of the Jewish genealogy.

Luckily, a semblance of common sense - if that is what one can call it - has prevailed.

After Mr. Othman offered his rather peculiar theological assessment, he was challenged by another prominent official, Sheikh 'Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, who flatly contradicted Sheikh Othman's assertion.

Sheikh Al-Hassan explained that the divine punishment which manifested itself in the form of a devolutionary mutation of sorts, against the transgressing Jews who were turned into swine, actually only affected a number of Moses' followers with whom Allah was very angry. Furthermore, those who were changed into pigs and apes, perished with their generation, and did not have occasion to engage in the act of copulation. Hence they did not leave any offspring from which there would be any such progeny occupying the pens of local farmers or roaming the Egyptian countryside today. Thus he declared Mr. Othman's claim of any Semitic ancestors born from victims of bad Jewish Karma, as it were, to be partly erroneous.

Sheikh Ahmad also emphasized that this was a highly unusual type of punishment from the Almighty, which in all likelihood, has not been repeated since. Oddly enough, he was not asked by his peers to comment on whether or not, in his own view, this unprecedented, "transformative" phase in Jewish history would have constituted a positive step forward in the evolutionary chain; after all, even one of the U.S. President's own advisors has gone so far as to compare a beauty contestant to the canine species.

Speaking of whom, one wonders if this bit of international news may serve as a reminder to president Obama, of the arguably insurmountable cultural and religious hurdles that must be negotiated, if one is to insist on a more tolerant approach from the nation of Israel towards its presumably peace loving and respectful Arab neighbors.