For most of Iraq’s history, Shia Muslims were scorned and persecuted. This low status persisted even when the Shias became a majority in the late nineteenth century—they are estimated to make up 60 to 65 percent of the population, compared to Sunnis, who make up between 32 and 37 percent. And since half the Sunnis are not Arabs but Kurds, who generally live in the north of the country where Shias are few, the predominance of Shias has been even more pronounced in the center and south.