Middle East Demographics (Shift)

As part of our project, Shift, we look at the demographics behind the protests that are sweeping over Tunisia, Egypt and now Yemen. Nearly one in five people living in the Middle East are between the ages of 15 and 24. And many of them are stuck - unable to launch into adulthood thanks to poor educational and job prospects. Many observers say this is a key element in the protests and that it is likely to fuel more.



It's Friday, January 28th.

Afghan officials say they would like to adopt the American practice of detaining suspected insurgents indefinitely without trial.

And they said you couldn't bring democracy to Afghanistan.

This is The Current.

PART ONE

Middle East - Cairo Report

The streets of Cairo were jammed with protesters once again this morning as protestors face off with police for the fourth day in a row. The demonstrations are the most serious threat to Hosni Mubarak's rule since he came to power nearly 30 years ago.

Communication into Egypt is almost impossible. The telecom company Vodafone says mobile operators have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas. But reports say security forces have used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to disburse thousands of protests on the streets of Cairo. Clashes between police and protesters are also being reported in several other major Egyptian cities, including Alexandria.

Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei reportedly joined the protests and we are hearing that police have now placed him under house arrest.

Other opposition members were detained overnight. Protests in the north-eastern city of Suez have killed four more people and injured dozens.

For the latest on the situation, we're joined by the CBC's NahlahAyed. She was in Cairo.

Middle East Demographics - Reporter

The protests are being driven largely by young people. Twenty per cent of Egypt's population is between the ages of 15 and 24. In Canada, it's just 13 per cent. And many observers think that so-called "youth bulge" is a big part of what's driving the protests.

Egypt isn't the only Middle Eastern country facing an explosion of young people who feel frustrated by the options in front of them. And that demographic tide is having a profound affect on the whole region. From Tunis to Yemen... and now Egypt. For their thoughts on how demographics are re-shaping the Middle East, we were joined by two people. Rachad Antonius is an Egyptian-born sociologist at the Université du Québec à Montreal. And Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at the Population Reference Bureau. She was in Toronto.

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