We’re serious about leadership & building a strong global humane community
ANIMALS 24-7 readers know that we gather and publish the news for people who care about animals on a budget of little more than air and access to cyberspace. $500 here is serious money. We don’t spend it easily, or without serious forethought.
But ANIMALS 24-7 is serious about leadership on behalf of animals and building a strong global humane community.
Making “stone soup”
We believe in the “stone soup” approach to getting things done, especially when the alleged international leadership of the humane community seems to have beans in their ears and their heads where the sun doesn’t shine.
Indeed, ANIMALS 24-7 exists through making “stone soup.”
Like the wandering story-teller who started a pot of “stone soup” with nothing but a stone, gradually persuading villagers to lend a pot, and then contribute water, wood, a match, and edible ingredients until the whole village could be fed as well as warmed, entertained, and enlightened, we started with nothing except the urgent need to report the news of humane community.
Comforting the afflicted, afflicting the comfortable
We report the news & information that the mainstream media overlook and the big international animal charities don’t include in their fundraising appeals –– often because they find the truth embarrassing –– and you responded, helping us to “comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable, publish the news, & raise hell.”
You have helped us to keep ANIMALS 24-7 alive and growing for nearly three years now.
With your continued help, we can look forward to our fourth year, and to doing even more of the work you expect us to do, in more places, helping more animals and the people who help them.
$500 is very serious money here, more than we have ever invested in anything that was not essential.
But that is precisely why ANIMALS 24-7 has just contributed $500 in seed money to help Egyptian animal rights and human rights lawyer Ahmed el Sherbiny host the first Middle East Network for Animal Welfare conference in more than seven years in March 2017. While the previous editions of the Middle East Network for Animals conference were held in Cairo, Egypt, the March 2017 edition is to be held in Amman, Jordan.
Ahmed el Sherbiny and the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends, directed by his wife Jackie and himself, hosted successful conferences in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, he recalled to us, “bringing together grassroots activists from over 35 countries,” mostly in the Middle East and North Africa, where some humane societies have struggled on for more than a century, yet mostly in isolation from each other and the outside world.
Memorable & productive
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the 2007 and 2010 Middle East Network for Animal Welfare Conferences.
They were among the most memorable and productive of all the hundreds of conferences I have attended, in decades of investigating and reporting about animal rights and welfare worldwide.
The Middle East Network for Animal Welfare conferences were memorable and productive in part because many of the participants were used to getting things done in out-of-the-way places with next to nothing, no government cooperation, and little to look forward to each day beyond more donkeys’ hooves to trim and saddle sores to salve, more dogs to treat for mange, and more cats with upper respiratory infections.
“Interaction ignited relationships”
“Face-to-face interaction ignited relationships,” Ahmed el Sherbiny recalled.
This enabled transboundary collaborations among Middle Eastern and North African animal advocates, who teamed up to attack elephant ivory and rhino horn trafficking; live sheep and cattle transport; slaughterhouses operating in disregard of even the hallal animal welfare standards prescribed nine centuries ago; traveling circuses that kept monkeys, lions, and other animals in horrendous conditions, moving from nation to nation a jump ahead of the law; clandestine “biomedical research” projects falling far short of meeting any international health and safety standards; and a variety of devastating diseases, from bird flu to rabies, ineptly “controlled” by governmental measures that were often as cruel in their effects as the diseases themselves.
For a few years the Middle East and North Africa appeared to be experiencing a “humane spring,” reviving concern for animal rights and welfare which had been expressed by the cat-worshippers of Pharoanic times, by prophets from Moses to Isaiah, by the Greek vegetarian philosopher of Egyptian background Pythagoras, and by Mohammed, who taught that there is a reward in heaven for any kindness done toward an animal.
Not least important, the Middle East appeared to be rediscovering the meaning of Hadith 4:538, a saying of Mohammed, narrated by Abu Huraira, who was among Mohammed’s most trusted friends.
The strongest teaching of Mohammed
Recounted Abu Huraira, “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.”
Hadith 4:538 goes beyond just promising a reward for helping animals. This saying of Mohammed promises specific forgiveness of sin to those who help animals, even if the sins are multiple and as grave in the Islamic cultural context as prostitution, compounded by the prostitute having removed her head covering and dipped her shoe into a well.
These are all offenses which in parts of the Islamic world are still punished by stoning or flogging.
Compassion more important than obedience
In essence, Hadith 4:538 states that practicing compassion for animals is more important than obedience to even some of the most basic social norms.
Hadith 4:538 indicates as a cultural goal the education of a society in which everyone is compassionate toward animals, and therefore no one is stoned or flogged.
Progress on behalf of both animal rights and human rights was definitely underway the last time the Middle East Network for Animal Welfare Conference was held.
Waves of change
“But then waves of change swept the Middle East and diverted attention,” wrote Ahmed el Sherbiny. “We had to repeatedly postpone the next Middle East Network for Animal Welfare Conference conference,” originally planned for Beirut, Lebanon in 2011, because the conference hosts could not guarantee the safety of the participants.
“There have been bright spots in Middle East animal welfare,” Ahmed el Sherbiny continued in e-mailing to us, “but there has been no platform to exchange ideas and lessons learned in the unique Middle East environment. We also need experts to provide updates on animal welfare development in other regions, so we can develop adaptations for the Middle East.
“We can’t wait any longer”
“We can’t wait any longer,” Ahmed el Sherbiny assessed, “to get the Middle East Network for Animal Welfare conference back in track! Could ANIMALS 24-7 be a sponsor to make this event happen?”
Sponsoring a major international conference, even in a nation like Egypt where U.S. dollars go very far indeed, costs more than the entire ANIMALS 24-7 annual budget.
ANIMALS 24-7 could not become a sponsor, though we would if we could, but Beth took a good look at Ahmed el Sherbiny’s inquiry and said, “We have to do what we can.”
We put up the first $500
What we can do is put up the first $500 and challenge animal rights and welfare organizations to proportionately match it.
There are animal rights and welfare organizations whose chief executives read ANIMALS 24-7 closely and faithfully, whose salaries are five to ten times higher than our annual budget.
If even one of them proportionately matches our $500, the 2017 Middle East Network for Animal Welfare Conference will be much more than fully funded. But we are not holding our breath.
If these organizations contribute even 1% as much, proportional to resources, the Middle East Network for Animal Welfare conference will happen.
Reignite progress for animal & human rights
There are many other animal rights and welfare organizations quite able to toss $5,000 or $10,000 into the Middle East Network for Animal Welfare “stone soup” pot to make the conference a success, and to reignite progress for animal rights and human rights in one of the regions of the world most in need of it.
This is our challenge to them to do what they can and should.
Please help us to be there too
And this is also our appeal to you, as our faithful and much appreciated individual readers and donors, to help ANIMALS 24-7 journey to Cairo next February too, to report about the events and ideas we hope to be advancing, enabling the animals’ cause in the Middle East to regain forward momentum.
The best preventative for the sorts of cruelties and atrocities exhibited in parts of the Middle East in recent years by ISIS, al Qaida, et al is building and reinforcing a strong humane ethic toward every living being, established firmly on the foundation of some of the oldest teachings indigenous to the region.
With your generous help, whether $50.o0, $500, or the full estimated $5,000 cost of our participation, counting all travel, accommodation, and research expenses while in Egypt and nearby parts of Africa, that is what we will be there to do.
[Contributions to the Middle East Network for Animal Welfare conference may be made directly by bank wire transfer to: Emirates NBD, Degla branch, The Egyptian Society of Animal Friends., Account No. 92096360, Swift No. EBILEGCXXX.
[Contributions to enable ANIMALS 24-7 to attend should be made directly to us.]
Beth & Merritt Clifton
P.S.––You might call helping to revive the Middle East Network for Animal Welfare conference our “Middle East peace plan.” We think it has a better chance of success than any other.