The Egyptian uprising was enough to wrestle a dictator from his long-held post and bring shadows of democracy to a Middle Eastern nation. But can people power also be utilized to elicit support for an animal-rights movement?
A coalition of organizations and activists in Egypt have banded together to demand an overhaul of animal treatment within the country, and just as weeks of protests forced the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak in February, they hope that a citizen demonstration will bring a renewed focus to the issues that have long plagued the country and seem to only get worse over time.
The Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals (ESMA), along with the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends (ESAF) and Animal Welfare Awareness Research (AWAR), announced over the weekend that a protest will take place outside the Giza Zoo on April 16 to bring to light matters ranging from the state of the zoo itself to illegal wildlife trades, unregulated pet breeding and the government’s propensity for shooting or poisoning homeless animals in order to control their population.
(More on TIME.com: See the fate of Cairo’s many cats)
Mona Khalil, ESMA co-founder, said in a press release announcing the protest that now is the time to seek rights for Egypt’s animals, as the nation is currently focused on building a more humane society overall.
“The way Egypt treats animals is a shame. The Giza Zoo is a national disgrace, Egypt has become known as a hub of the international illegal trade in wildlife, and the municipal policy of controlling street animal populations by shooting and poisoning is deplorable,” Khalil said in the release. “At the root of all this is a not only systemic corruption but also policy failure, as Egypt is lacking even the basic animal welfare legislation that would enable the prosecution of violators.”
As a new, democratic government is being constructed within Egypt, these organizations and their supporters have outlined specific (and likely controversial) demands, including launching investigations into corruptions at the Ministry of Agriculture and enacting legislation that will provide legal standards on how animals should be treated within the country. But while Egypt has a history of respecting — and even revering – animals like cats and camels, the current environment is a far cry from ancient times.
Whether or not the demands of these demonstrators will be met remains in question, but NewsFeed agrees with the group’s effort to piggyback on the country’s newly-united spirit. After all, if you’re going to reform a nation, why stop at its human citizens?
(More on TIME.com: See TIME’s top 10 heroic animals)