Let Them Eat Donkey

A new delicacy is coming to Egypt: donkey meat. That’s the view of Tamer Amin, a pro-government Egyptian television host. Government officials endorsed Amin’s suggestion, and an expert from the Egyptian National Nutrition Institute later appeared on his show to reinforce the idea.

Amin’s idea is about price, not taste. Skyrocketing food prices have made meat a luxury for most Egyptians, and the government is looking to promote alternatives. In December, the National Nutrition Institute encouraged Egyptians to eat chicken feet, raving about their nutritional value and suggesting ways to incorporate it into traditional Egyptian foods. A photoshopped image of soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo supposedly eating chicken feet provoked ridicule online.  Other government officials promote vegetarianism, to little effect.

Annual inflation is running more than 30 percent in Egypt, and the costs of food and beverages have risen about twice as much.  The government blames the war in Ukraine and worldwide inflation for its economic woes and has placed the onus on Egyptians to show their patriotism and acclimate to the worsening situation.

The public isn’t buying it. Religious institutions such as Al-Azhar reiterated that Islam prohibits eating donkey meat, and the internet has provided ample outlets for complaints about rising prices. Notably, several videos feature older women one of President Sisi’s key constituencies — angrily venting about the impacts of Sisi’s policies on their lives.

The donkeys may be able to breathe easier, but Egyptians are likely looking at more hardship.