I’ve been holding out on this bad boy for a while since things erupted politically in Egypt a couple of weeks ago. Here it is…(animal rights activists, I would go back to whatever website you were on before)
A little over a month ago my roommate and I were invited by our friend, Ramy, to come check out one of his place of business, a butcher shop. We agreed.
The Egyptian butcher community, and I would assume the Islamic butcher community, was extra busy at this juncture because in just a few days time Eid al-Adha, or “feast of sacrifice”, would commence. This holiday marks the end of the Hajj. The Hajj is the time when Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and it states that all able-bodied Muslims are required to make the trip at least once in their lifetimes. For more details on the Hajj use our good friend Wikipedia.
While about 2 million Muslims are doing their thing in Mecca, the other 1,498,000,000 Muslims are getting ready to be with their families, celebrate, worship, and EAT. As the name of the holiday implies, there is some sacrificing to be done.
In the days leading up to Eid al-Adha there is an extra high demand for meat, be it beef, lamb, or camel. Camel is delicious by the way. In order to fill this need, the central butcheries across the land (I am now speaking on behalf of Egypt) go into overdrive.
When we were invited we didn’t quite know what we were getting into and I can now say with certainty that I never could have imagined what we were about to experience.
As we were in the cab I began to see the day unfolding in a way that I wasn’t thrilled about. I was tired and hungover from the night before so I didn’t feel like doing much but sleeping, let alone embark on an adventure. We finally arrived at our destination, a neighborhood known as Imbaba.
Imbaba was once a major center in the camel trade from Sudan but has since become an over-crowded piece of urban sprawl, and a center of Cairo’s drug trade. Think of Imbaba like Detroit. Once a blossoming focal point of the American economy and now real-estate is selling for a dollar. Literally. Despite this, Imbabaians are wonderful people and each time I go there I always have great experiences.
I exited the taxi and was struck by a nauseating aroma. It smelled kind of like dead animal. I was wrong. It smelled like hundreds of dead animals. The hangover got worse.
We met up with Ramy who lead us into a dilapidated building, as everyone else stared at the two white kids. My immediate impression of the scene was that the next installment of the Saw saga had been filmed in Cairo. A sea of blood covered the floor. As I assessed the scene, I was asked to move as two camels were led past me.
Ramy introduced Fritz and I to several people. I was a bit distracted as I watched an efficient team of men slit a cows throat, cut off its head, hoist it in the air with hooks, and then proceed to skin and clean it. It was like an Egyptian pit crew.
The animals were killed in a halal fashion, which basically means in accordance with Islamic law. Animals must be slaughtered by a Muslim, who must slit its throat with a well sharpened blade. The spine is supposed to remain untouched until the animal is dead.
We watched several animals meet their maker. Watching a camel go down is a pretty interesting sight. Watching the rigor mortis set in is a bit grosser.
After a while we told Ramy that we had had enough so we rode with him, his brother (at the wheel), his nephew, and a cow (in halves) on a three-wheeled motorcycle with a flatbed through the bustling streets of Cairo to make some deliveries. I don’t think fresh air has ever felt so good.
Needless to say, I had chicken for dinner.
To many of you reading this, these practices may seem barbaric, cruel, inhumane. But before passing judgement, think about it. All of the meat that we eat comes from something that was once alive. Animals must be killed before their meat can be enjoyed by us, whether it is at McDonalds or Del Frisco’s steakhouse. In the States animals are killed in an assembly line like fashion with migrant workers’ fingers and arms munched up in the mix. At the Imbaba butchery, the animals are killed quickly and in a spiritual way.
Also if would like to see the uncensored pictures feel free to contact me and I’ll turn you into a vegetarian for the day.