Tuesday, June 16, 2009

With a Grain of Salt: A Pig's Visit [to an egyptian journalist]

By Mohamed Salmawy - The Daily News - First Published: June 12, 2009

My secretary walked in disturbed, saying there was a pig outside who wanted to meet me. “What is so strange about that?” I asked. “Pigs come here every day.”

"But this is a real pig," she said.

"Are there still any real pigs left? Has the government not culled them all?" I wondered.

"I don't know. All I know is that there is a pig outside who insists on meeting you," she said.

"Ok, let him in," I said.

Before I had completed my sentence, the pig pushed the door open and came into my office. Nervously, he said that we must apologize and that history will hold to account all of those who commit genocide.

"Please calm down first. Would you like some lemonade?" I said.

The pig gave a loud oink and shrieked: "What lemonade, sir? I have not risked walking in the streets to come to your office to have some lemonade. I’ve come to discuss the collective massacre, the genocide? And you offer me lemonade?"

"We can't reach an understanding this way. Calm down and tell me what it’s all about," I said.

"Haven’t you carried out massacres against us all? Haven’t you attempted to get rid of us? Haven’t you tried to cull our local species, which is different from other pig strains in the world?" the pig said.

"But you know that we've been threatened with a serious kind of influenza that comes through pigs. We were only trying to protect our citizens from this threat," I said.

"There you go again, repeating the fallacies made by your good government which made you the laughing stock of the world. Who said that the H1N1 flu, which you call swine flu, can be eliminated by culling pigs?"

"The whole world said this," I replied.

"Nonsense! If this were true, why did the rest of the world not get rid their pigs? Will you always be that ignorant? The elimination of any disease can be done with the preventive actions identified by the World Health Organization, which don't include the mass killing of pigs.”

I kept quiet for a moment. It is true, WHO has never recommended the culling of pigs.

But he continued, saying, "Now the influenza H1N1 has arrived to you. Where did it come from? Have we, pigs, brought it? You've culled hundreds of thousands of our Egyptian pig strains. But this brutal massacre, for which history will bring take you to account, hasn't prevented the arrival of the epidemic to our beloved Egypt, which is our own country just as it is yours. The disease has come to you from a human like you."

After a moment of reflection I said, "We really do owe you an apology. But our good government hasn't yet been able to eliminate all your species. And you, being with me now, are the evidence. Within a few years, you will reproduce and your numbers will go back to how they were before."

"This is questionable. We are now threatened with extinction," the pig said.

"How?" I asked.

"You humans are now transmitting the virus among each other and can infect us. In this case, we won't find anyone to rescue us. You, not the pigs, have become the source of the pandemic. That's why we decided to borrow the great genius preventive action adopted by your government. We will be killing human beings in order to protect ourselves," the pig replied.

"You will be committing a grave injustice," I said.

"You killed the pigs even though they hadn’t contracted the disease. But you don't want us to kill you, even though it is confirmed that you now carry the virus? Didn’t I say you lack logic and good thinking?" the pig said.

I was dumbfounded.

"We should eliminate you to rescue the world not only from influenza, which you're now transmitting among each other, but also to get rid of the bigger epidemic — your ignorance and your inability to think logically. Instead, you depended on the genius decisions of your good government, which is more dangerous than the influenza that you've wrongly accused us of carrying."

Mohamed Salmawy is President of the Arab Writers’ Union and Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Hebdo.