Eid al-Adha in Cairo

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Eid al-Adha by Green Prophet1

I disappeared again.

This time I had a legit reason: a long vacation in this country. And I thought only Russians keep celebrating New Year for 10 days in a row; apparently Muslims celebrate Eid for 7 days.

I was a bit terrified of this holiday: seeing rivers of blood and dead animals in the city streets is not in the most pleasant experience. My lack of education regarding the local culture and traditions sometimes seems shameful even for myself. So I was fully convinced that this celebration represents human savagery, that killing animals on streets is just barbarian, not to mention disgusting. However, after several conversations on this topic with people around me I realized that they see things differently.

A little bit of a background info: Eid al-Adha [or Kurban Bairam] is a festival of sacrifice. According to a legend god asked Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as a sign of obedience to the god’s will, and Ibrahim planned to do so [this part seems pretty cruel to me: why would a god ask such a thing?]. Then the god supposedly stopped him from killing his own child and ordered to sacrifice a sheep instead. Ever since, Muslims around the world celebrate the god’s mercy [sic] and sacrifice animals. This may seem bloody, messy and brutal; however, there is waaaaay more humane to the animals compared to what happens to them in slaughter houses. Moreover this is a holiday for poor people, the ones that cannot afford eating meat. And this day they can eat it for free.

Some of my friends here give money to a butcher or buy animals for this holiday and give all the meat to the poor. Therefore I find this charitable idea rather positive than negative. More than 50% of the Egyptians live below the poverty line nowadays. This figure is astonishing. And the food is needed. Nonetheless blood rivers and cars covered in blood [for the good luck – sic again!] still seem barbarian to me.

In this regard is was struck by the Russian reaction on similar celebrations in Moscow. Last year the perception was negative and aggressive. This year there is less aggression since authorities have banned slaughtering animals all across the city and allocated only three spots for these purposes in Moscow. Where does this negative attitude come from? Or everyone has happily forgotten that Russia is a multi-religious country, with more than 20 millions of Muslims. That areas with the Muslim population have been a part of Russia for centuries now. And besides, it turns out to be the most humane way of killing animals compared to the one in slaughter houses. Some people do not even bother thinking about it. Sure thing it is easier to buy a piece of meat in a store, put it in your plastic bag and ignore a beggar on a street. It is easier to judge someone’s “barbarian” traditions and be simply racist and nationalistic for no particular reason.

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About Masha Egupova

I am coming from the small city on the Russian Far East called Vladivostok, but Chinese call it 海參崴 [Hǎishēnwǎi] meaning "Sea Cucumber Cliffs." In my blog I will present the view from and about Vladivostok and my views on what is going on in Russia in general.

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