If you’re a pig being raised for slaughter, life’s a fairly rough prospect to begin with. But for the pigs of Egypt, things have gone from bad to really, really terrible.

The Egyptian government has ordered the slaughter of all pigs in the country as a (probably misguided) measure to curb the spread of swine flu in a country with no confirmed cases of the disease. The decision dramatically affects the country’s Coptic Christians, who are among the only folks in Egypt who should be raising and eating pigs, according to Islamic dietary law.

The death sentence caused a weekend of riots in Egypt as pig farmers railed against authorities, throwing pig manure at the veterinarians who came to inspect farms in Cairo’s north end.

The government has said all pigs must be destroyed within three weeks, and has a fund for compensating farmers. But the pig ban may have further fallout, says Radio Netherlands Worldwide: “The current system allows for the recycling of much of Egypt’s organic waste. Entire families work on the rubbish heaps, picking out the organic waste to feed to the pigs. The pig farmers predict that the culling of pigs will lead to an accumulation of rotting refuse.”

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