This is not a hypothetical question. It is starkly real. Under the Islamic faith it is not permitted to eat cats and dogs1. However, in the suburbs of southern Damascus, not far from people sipping coffee in pleasant surroundings in the center of the city, people are starving to death because the Assad regime has blockaded the roads to those areas preventing the shipment of provisions. People are also starving to death in the Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus.
“How does the world sleep with full stomachs while there are hungry people, and not far from the main city, just few meters way,” (leading imam)
The decision was made by Islamic leaders to declare, in the form of a fatwa (a scholarly opinion and ruling), that people can to eat cat and dog meat.
Before I go on, most online newspapers are simply stating that the residents of Damascus are allowed to eat cat and dog meat. To me that implies they are allowed to kill cats and dogs to eat them.
However, as I understand it, the edict states that the residents can eat the flesh of cats and dogs that have been killed by the bombs of the Assad regime. This is substantially different.
However, it is not completely clear as to how the fatwa is being put into practice. I would expect some people to kill their pets because dead animals, killed some time ago, are going to be inedible for obvious reasons.
This religious ruling may simply be a marketing stunt to highlight the plight of starving Syrians living not far from Assad himself. The timing is interesting. It is the time of the Haj, the mass pilgrimage to Mecca where the Prophet lived. Some journey to Medina as well. where the prophet Mohammad is laid to rest. It is particularly poignant that Muslims are starving while others spend good money of the pilgrimage.
I, for one, could not kill and eat my cat to survive if I was starving to death. That is the way I feel now with a full belly whilst in warm, comfortable surroundings. But what if I was a Syrian Muslim, living amongst the rubble of my home, literally starving to death and terrified. We don’t know what we would do under these circumstances unless we are under them.
The human survival instinct is a huge driver to take action. There are documented cases of people resorting to cannibalism under these circumstances. I would, therefore, expect some Syrians to kill their pets and eat them.
One factor that might be worth noting is that most cats in the Middle East have looser relationships with their human companions. The word “community cat” would describe a large percentage of the cats living in these places. This probably facilitates killing them to eat when push comes to shove.
- Huff Post.
- Link to original photo on Flickr