Gezira Club accused of poisoning stray cats
Dead cats after being executed in Gezira Club - Photo courtesy of Stop Gezira Club massacres official Facebook page
By MUHAMMAD GHAMRAWY

CAIRO: Shocking photos of dozens of dead stray cats poisoned and bludgeoned to death circulated on social media have revealed “a huge massacre against animals” committed at the prestigious Gezira Club in Zamalek district.

Social media users and some Egyptian animal protection organizations launched hashtags on Twitter protesting this cruelty and expressing their rejection to what happened, in preparation to stage a stand in front of the club on Tuesday at 6.pm in protest, according to the Stop Gezira Club massacres Facebook page.

“For years now, the club has been following this manner in exterminating and killing stray cats, we have tried more than once to negotiate with them and convince them to keep the cats live, while reducing their numbers through having the cats spayed at the organization’s expense, and we actually did that with about 68 cats, but the club did adhere to our initiative afterwards and continued to kill the cats,” said ESMA manager (Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals) Mona Khalil to Youm7 on Sunday.

Khalil added that they were monitoring violations against cats since 2007, adding that they called the police once they knew about the new extermination process at the club which began four days ago but “we only rescued one cat that was in a critical condition.”

“We do not know exactly how many cats have been killed, and we decided this time to escalate against such violations which are being repeated in more than one place in Egypt,” she said.

She added that the club used prohibited poisons, which do not appear in the autopsy, wondering how it acquired these poisons, despite such poisons being banned by the General Organization of Veterinary Services to use or even be used by a specialized vet.

She added that one of the animal protection organizations filed a report against the club, and would escalate the matter to the Supreme Council for sports, clarifying that club members have decided to mobilize to remove the current board of directors.

Facebook users created a page named “Against Cruelty of Gezira Club”, while Twitter users launched the hashtag “#StopGeziraClubMassacre”.

The Egyptian Federation for Animal Welfare (EFAW) said on their Facebook Sunday that they sued the club, saying that “ESAF (The Egyptian Society of Animal Friends) and ESMA on behalf of EFAW filed a criminal case of animal cruelty against Gezira Club.”

Online comments included blogger Noory’s post on Sunday that the cats were “beaten, chocked in sacks, bludgeoned to death, poisoned and dropped in garbage bins.”

She further referred to article 45 in the 2014 constitution which states that  “the State shall protect and develop the green space in the urban areas; preserve plant, animal and fish resources and protect those under the threat of extinction or danger; guarantee proper treatment of animals, all according to the law.”

Noory also addressed other “massacres” committed against stray dogs at al-Rehab City, saying “This is not the first time something like this happens… Such practices are adopted by individuals and even whole neighborhoods such as Al Rehab City.”

According to the Occupy for Animals organization on Jan. 14, 2013, about 1,757 stray dogs and 518 stray cats were killed, after a campaign was organized against the stray animals in Suez.

Noory showed some examples of people’s suggestions on how to solve the problem of stray dogs and cats, as one suggested slaughtering the dogs and selling them to the Philippines because “they like eating dogs,” while another jokingly suggested “gathering the dogs and making sandwiches out of them.”

Furthermore, she showed another example of a woman who suggested spaying the dogs instead of poisoning them, based on The Holy Quran.

Club members and regulars have also been vocal about this situation on social media, club member Rana Mustafa, for example, told The Cairo Post “I’m absolutely against the brutal murder of the cats, but they should find a solution. Wherever you sit, you’re surrounded by cats. It’s not even safe or healthy.”

“Stray cats are a real problem in the club, they are almost everywhere and they gather around food, which makes it increasingly hard for us to eat in outdoor areas,” Hagar Moataz, another club member, told The Cairo Post, adding “despite stray cats’ excessive presence, there are numerous less brutal ways to solve this problem, especially that the poison does not only harm stray cats, but also members’ pet dogs, some of which have died as a result of sniffing or eating poisoned objects in the club.”

Other club members such as Mostafa Mossaad doubted the news saying “I did not see anything. And to tell you the truth, I would investigate it a bit more. Unlikely! I personally don’t think the club administration killed any cats. I was raised in that club, and it’s been always very friendly towards strays, specifically cats. I used to feed a lot of them.”

Additional reporting by Sarah Darwish, Mohamed Hani and Gehad el-Sheikh

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