Cairo: The Egyptian parliament is considering legislation aimed at toughening penalties for the illegal sale of donkey and dog meat that has reportedly thrived in the populous country in recent months.

The assembly’s Constitutional and Legislative Committee is studying a draft bill considering the sale of donkey and dog meat a crime punishable by a jail term of up to seven years and a minimum fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (Dh20,408).

The draft is written by Badawi Abdul Lateef, a lawmaker from the Nile Delta town of Meet Ghamr.

“I have presented this bill in order to confront this phenomenon that has increased in the recent period,” Abdul Lateef said.

“The current penal code does not include specific punishment for this crime,” he told private newspaper Al Youm Al Saba.

Around 70,000 donkeys are believed to have been slaughtered in Egypt in recent months for selling their meat and skins, according to media reports.

Over recent months, Egyptian police and health inspectors have reportedly seized large quantities of donkey meat offered to unsuspecting customers at restaurants in several parts of this country of 92 million people.

The suspects have apparently taken advantage of increase in prices of meat products in the country particularly after the local pound was floated last November as part of harsh economic reforms.

“There is no clear article in the Egyptian law for punishing people involved in trade of donkey meat,” Ahmad Mohammad, a lawyer, said.

“This act is considered in the present law a misdeamenour and a commercial fraud punished by a fine of 10,000 pounds and a jail term of up to three years in,” Mohammad told Gulf News.

“But the kind of penalty is subjected to the judge’s discretion.”

Dar Al Iftah, Egypt’s main Islamic authority responsible for issuing fatwas, has ruled that slaughtering donkeys for human consumption is haram or impermissible in Islam.