Saturday, 26 February 2011

CNN Explainer: Tensions between Sunnis and Shiites

CNN has published a basic, but effective, explanation of how ultimately 8th century CE differences between the Sunni and the Shiite brands of Islam can lead to conflict between and amongst Muslim societies. This conflict has manifested itself repeatedly—and to varying degrees—in multiple modern conflicts: the Iran-Iraq War (1980s), the mid-2000s Iraq insurgency, the popular uprising in Bahrain in 2011....

  • Sunni and Shiite Islam are the two major denominations of the Islamic faith
  • Sunnis make up the majority, with only 10% of the Muslim population being Shiite
  • Tensions have arisen in recent years, heightened by events in Iran and Iraq
  • There are fears unrest in places such as Bahrain will spark further tensions
In many instances, of course—and as the article points out—Sunni and Shia Muslims do live peacefully side by side. As an important potential and—all too often—actual rationale for division, this religious divide remains important for understanding sources of conflict within identity politics, as emphasised by Unit 4: War, Conflict and Terrorism. Read the whole explainer.

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