Alawites to Yazidis: A Guide to Religious Communities in the Middle East

Iranians shout slogans during a protest against the Sunni Arab militants offensive led by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq on June 24, 2014 in Tehran.

The divide between Shiites and Sunnis plays an important role in the current politics and turmoil in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. On this week’s Please Explain we’ll learn about the differences—and similarities—among the many religious communities in the Middle East. Zachary Lockman, Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and History at NYU, explains the power struggles in the Middle East and discusses Syria, Saddam Hussein, Yasar Arafat, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Kurds, and ISIS.