Sunni and Shia Demographic Mixes and Peace


Many Muslim-majority countries with Sunni and Shia demographic mixes are relatively peaceful, according to the latest research from the Institute for Economics and Peace. The report, Five Key Questions Answered on the Link between Peace and Religion, provides a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between peace and religion.

Does the demographic spread of Sunni and Shia in Muslim majority countires determine peace?

In analysing Muslim-majority countries, including those currently embroiled in armed conflict, the research shows that the demographic spread of Sunni and Shia does not determine levels of peace.

Qatar, the most peaceful country in the Middle East (ranked 19th) on the Global Peace Index, has the same proportion of Sunni to Shia as one of the world’s least peaceful countries: Afghanistan. Iran also has similar proportional breakdown. This tells us that the religious demographic breakdown is not necessarily a determining factor in the state of peace.

While Sunni/Shia conflicts persist in certain areas of the Middle East, a statistical analysis included in the Peace and Religion Report shows that there are other factors, such as levels of corruption, governance and relations with neighbours that have a higher impact on levels of violence and conflict.

As shown in the graph above there are several relatively peaceful countries that have significant proportions of Sunni and Shia Muslims. Kuwait and Bahrain have substantial Sunni and Shia populations, yet both these nations maintain good levels of peacefulness.

For a full answer to the question:  ‘Does the Demographic Spread of Sunni and Shia Determine Peace?’ Download the Religion and Peace Report and skip to page 13.

About the Report

‘Peace and Religion’ is a global statistical analysis of the empirical link between religion and peace. The report answers five key questions based on common themes featured in popular media. The five questions addressed are:

Question 1: Is religion the main cause of conflict today?

Question 2: Does the proportion of religious belief or atheism in a country determine the peace of the country?

Question 3: Does the demographic spread of Sunni and Shia in Muslim majority countries affect peace?

Question 4: Is religion key to understanding what drives peace?

Question 5: Can religion play a positive role in peacebuilding?

Download the Report

For more information, download the full report: Five Key Questions Answered on the Link between Peace and Religion

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