Population and society
With more than 80 million residents, of which more than a third are under the age of 14, Egypt is the most populous state in the Arab world. Its population has nearly doubled in the past thirty years and population growth continues to outstrip the national economic capacity to support it. Since most of the Egyptian territory is desert, more than 95% of the population lives in a small area along the fertile Nile valley and around the river delta (which make up less than 5% of the territory), with a very high density rate., which in some areas of the capital reaches more than 100,000 residents per square kilometer. This explains why reducing population pressure – the population growth rate was estimated at 1.6% in 2013 – is one of the government’s main goals. For Egypt society, please check homosociety.com.
On the one hand, the gradual process of liberalization of the economy initiated during the Mubarak presidency favored economic growth, on the other hand it produced a rise in prices and a fall in wages which, in fact, worsened the living conditions of the population.
Added to this is the problem of unemployment (13%), which remained high especially among young people (around 36%) even under the government of al-Sisi and Prime Minister Mahlab. The country is also no stranger to religious tensions between the Muslim-Sunni majority and the Christian-Coptic minority, which accounts for about 10% of the population.
The Egyptians represent the dominant ethnic group with 94%, while the remaining 6% is made up of the Bedouins, who live in the deserts east of the Nile and in the Sinai, the Berbers, who are concentrated in the Siwa oasis west of the Nile, and the Nubians, who live in the Upper Nile. Over the last few decades, a hardly quantifiable number of political refugees from Iraq, Sudan and Syria have also flowed into Egypt, joining the Palestinian refugees who have flocked here since 1948.
Freedom and rights
The phase of approach to the presidential elections of 2014 and the one immediately following it were marked by an accentuated authoritarian control of the political life of the country and by numerous restrictions on personal freedoms by the new executive. This has also entailed restrictions on political participation, above all, for all Islamist formations declared illegal. This authoritarian squeeze has led to an increase in street protests – according to the Democracy Index report in the country there were more than 14,000 demonstrations against the government in 2014 alone – and to a downgrading of the country in the rankings. world championships for democratic indices. In this context characterized by repression and capillary control, political protest, disaffection towards the regime and the demands of democratic openness of the Egyptians have often found expression on the Internet which in Egypt is not subject to filter, although the blockade and the blackout of some sites considered sensitive. Many sites and blogs of members of the secular but also religious oppositions, as well as independent intellectuals, in that period became the most natural tool to circumvent state censorship and to make known the motivations behind the revolution of the young Egyptians. The relevance of this ‘virtual vitality’, on the other hand, emerged with all its potential precisely during the anti-regime protests at the beginning of 2011 and in those of 2013, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have proved to be fundamental means for spreading mobilization within the country, especially among the younger sections of the population, and for giving it visibility outside, given the severe restrictions on freedom of the press and information.
Numerous demonstrations and strikes were severely repressed by the authorities, resulting in several dozen arrests of journalists and human rights activists. Even today, also due to the continuing political instability, the general framework of civil and political rights in the country has not improved. In this sense, the approval by the government of a new very restrictive law on the right to demonstrate which prohibits any unauthorized march and punishes its participants with jail, makes the conflict not only between Islamists and the military even more bitter, but also between these and liberal and secular civil society. The level of corruption (the country ranks 114th out of 177 according to the Transparency International Index) within institutions and public administration remains a major problem, both in terms of damage to the state budget, and for the potentially destabilizing malaise it creates among the population. The success or failure of the new government and the Egyptian transition to democracy depend on it, and more generally, on the improvement of the system of redistribution and social justice.