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Meat prices soar before Eid el-Adha
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 16 - 10 - 2011

CAIRO – Next month, Egypt celebrates Eid-el-Kebir, the feast of sacrifice, which has already turned some of Cairo streets into a makeshift farmyard, where startled and agitated rams fight for space.
For the past few days, thousands of rams are exhibited in the open air, before being sold for slaughter after sunrise on the first day of the feast, which is expected to start on November 6.
This year, however, only the rich will be able to honour the centuries' old tradition of slaughtering a ram or sheep and eat its meat as the prices of the local or imported livestock are not reasonable any more for a middle class family.
The price of a dog-sized local ram weighing less than 40 kilos has exceeded LE1,320 (circa $220), whereas the price of a 60 kilo ram exceeds LE2,200, consumers complained.
No one can afford this sum of money to buy a ram for the feast, which also requires purchasing new clothes for the children and giving money presents to them too, they say.
Buyers feel these prices are high for a ram, but the traders believe that a fat and healthy ram has no price.
Even, the butchers have raised the prices before the four-day Eid, which is known in Egypt as the feast of meat.
The price of one kilo of fresh mutton ranges between LE33 ($6) and LE50, the butchers say, blaming the local breeders and traders for the price hikes.
But, the breeders and traders, who regard the Eid as a good business opportunity, defend themselves by saying that they have paid lots of expenses like buying food for the animals during the year and transporting them to Cairo.
This year, official sources say that more than 600,000 of these animals have come to Cairo from neighbouring governorates like Sharkiya, Qalubia and Menufia.
Some Cairo residents do not accept the high prices of the rams, but also complain about the inconveniences these street farmlands cause.
They complain about the loud voices and foul smell of these sheep and other animals, which invade their houses during the day and night.
They also say that many Egyptians ignore Government rules and slaughter animals in the streets.
Egyptians celebrate Eid el-Adha, the most important holiday in the Islamic calendar, with prayers, family reunions and traditional sweets for the occasion.
"This Eid differs from the previous ones because Hosni Mubarak is not ruling Egypt any more," Adel Farid said, adding that he is so optimistic this Eid.
The day is set by sighting of the moon, with Muslims traditionally following a lunar calendar for its holy days.
Thousands of worshippers will pray at mosques in Cairo and in towns and villages across the country �" and almost all sermons will centre on politics.
Many Egyptians celebrate the feast by taking their children out to play, followed by lunch with relatives and friends.
Al-Adha holiday, or the Feat of the Sacrifice, commemorates Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son for God �" According to Muslim tradition, after Abraham expresses his willingness, God sends the prophet two sheep instead for slaughter.
Egypt has been without president since February 11 when President Mubarak stepped down after a popular uprising that broke out on Jan. 25.


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