Pig-headed Mullahs

I guess it was predictable. Divine retribution had to rear its ugly head over swine flu. Yes, in case you didn’t know, some mullahs claim that God gave us swine flu. They say the virus will devastate the pig-gobbling-West. Yankee infidels will be doomed, and the faithful spared.

Cries from the mosques have this far resulted in culling pigs, along with spurning their owners and, of course, anyone with a penchant for pork chops. Even in Egypt, which hasn’t reported a single case of swine flu, over 300,000 pigs were butchered. Perhaps not so incidentally, their Christian owners were refused compensation. No doubt more ugly acts will follow wherever excuses can be found to wield power and create rifts between people – this is the stuff that some clerics thrive on.

But how can such people remain blinded to the facts?
Swine flu is one of scores of diseases that have evolved from other life forms to humans. Look up zoonosis. Did we blame cholera on God? Anthrax? Mad cow disease? Avian flu? Perhaps we did. But surely in this age we can demand more from community leaders – hold them accountable, and to a higher standard? Is it too sinister to mention that misinformation on fatal diseases can result in death? Or that if such persons really cared about people’s welfare they would be offering information to help prevent infection?

Some mullahs clearly don’t heed the call to read or to track developments in the epidemic they are otherwise obsessed with; they don’t or won’t understand that the latest information suggests that we are more likely to contract swine flu from another human than from a pig. Thus far, there isn’t a single confirmed pig to human transmission (see FAQs for swine flu on the WHO website). You can’t get the virus from cooked pork. Apparently, the virus hasn’t even been isolated in swine – at least not at this point in time – but got its name due to some similarity between its genome and a virus in pigs.

What happens when the first incidents of swine flu occur amongst these bearded folk? Will they band forces with rabbis in Israel lobbying for the flu to be renamed – thus avoiding the scandal of being tainted? More to the point, will they pray for a cure or will they scurry to their doctors for help?

I wonder who will get the last laugh as the misnomer “swine flu” gets supplanted by the less emotive: “Influenza A virus subtype H1N1”. No doubt these mullahs will conveniently forget all they’ve said on the subject and find some other scam to take its place.

Fawzia Rasheed, 7th May 2009

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