The conversion was accompanied by a massive crackdown on Sunnis, so that over time much of the population became Shia.Today, most of the Sunnis who remain are mostly from minority ethnic groups—Arabs, Turkmen, Kurds, Baluch—rather than Persians. Many of these Sunnis also live in remote, impoverished areas, making it difficult to tell whether poor government services are a result of sectarian discrimination or not.One way that Sunnis—as well as disaffected non-Sunni members of Iranian society—have responded to this environment is to embrace Salafism, hardline Sunni orthodoxy, according to Mehdi Khalaji, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence are officially recognized in the constitution as sources of family law and religious education.That makes some discrimination based on religion difficult to separate from ethnic discrimination, according to the U. The state of religious freedom in Iran is not good—Freedom House ranks it “not free,” with nearly the lowest rating, in its annual report.(That’s still enough to best Saudi Arabia, which Freedom Houses places in the “worst of the worst.”) In addition to Sunnis, there are several smaller non-Muslims groups, notably Bahais, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians.While it is widely assumed that Iraq has a Shia majority, there is little reliable data on the exact Sunni-Shia breakdown of the population there, particularly since refugees arriving in Iraq due to the conflict in Syria or leaving Iraq due to its own turmoil may have affected the composition of Iraq’s population.The few available survey measures of religious identity in Iraq suggest that about half the country is Shia.