Sunni Muslims constitute approximately 8 percent of the Iranian population. A majority
of Kurds, virtually all Baluchis and Turkomans, and a minority of Arabs are Sunnis, as
are small communities of Persians in southern Iran and Khorasan. The main difference
between Sunnis and Shias is that the former do not accept the doctrine of the Imamate.
Generally speaking, Iranian Shias are inclined to recognize Sunnis as fellow Muslims,
but as those whose religion is incomplete.
Shia clergy tend to view missionary work among Sunnis to convert them to true Islam as
a worthwhile religious endeavor. Since the Sunnis generally live in the border regions
of the country, there has been no occasion for Shia-Sunni conflict in most of Iran. In
those towns with mixed populations in West Azarbaijan, the Persian Gulf region, and
Baluchestan va Sistan, tensions between Shias and Sunnis existed both before and after
the Revolution. Religious tensions have been highest during major Shia observances,
Library of Congress Country Studies