OF THE KURDS, SUNNI AND SHIITES IN IRAQ
By Sally Fredriksen, a Retired Fairfax County Teacher 2002
This lesson plan would be appropriate for U.S. History/Government or World
History classes at the immediate or secondary level. This lesson encourages
students to examine three religious/ethnic groups living in Iraq and how
these groups would be affected politically by a U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Thirty minutes to an hour.
to National Standards
1. Introduction--Begin by explaining to the class that Iraq and many surrounding
Middle Eastern Countries have three religious/ethnic groups living together.
The Sunni , the Shiites are both Islamic. In the year 680, the Islam faith
split into the Sunni and the Shiites over a question of leadership of
the faith. The Sunni are the minority population in Iraq but the powerful.
The Sunni rule Iraq . The Shiite are the majority population in Iraq but
are powerless and are discriminated against by Saddam. As a consequence,the
Shiite have rebelled many times against the government. The Kurds, the
majority of which are Sunni, make up 20% of the Iraq population and are
also persecuted. Most live in Northern Iraq. The Kurds , also have rebelled
2. Break the class into two groups and have one half of the class read
"Voice of Resistance and one half of the class read "Who are the Kurds"
and have the groups outline the important parts of the articles. These
outlines should be placed on the board with masking tape as one student
presents the information.
As a class
analyze the following issues: (The following answers are starting points
1. How are the the Kurds, Sunni and Shiites similar?
are common religious factors and they all want voice in government
and human rights.
2. How is political power involved?
The Sunni have power currently. In a democracy, the Shiites could
gain power, as could the Kurds. The Sunni would be the new minority.
3. Why might Turkey and Iran be upset if Iraq became a democracy?
Turkey also persecutes or ignores their Kurd population and they
fear that the Kurds in Turkey may want their rights or democracy.
Iran also fears that her people may want changes in government if
democracy in Iraq is successful.
4. What do Shiites in Southern Iraq fear about America establishing
the democracy in Iraq?
The Shiites think President Bush should allow the people of Iraq
to be part of establishing the new government instead of America
placing a "governor" in charge of the Iraq people.
5. Which group has recently had a positive experience with democracy?
The Kurds in Northern Iraq have established a democracy since
1991 with U.S. and British protection.
If time allows or for homework have each student write a paragraph suggesting
how a new government could be created in Iraq that would meet the needs
of all people. Some of the best essays could be shared at a later date.
The essays could be held until after the war to be compared with what
Standards for Civics and Government
4: What is the relationship of the United States to other nations
and to world affairs? Explain conditions and motivations that contribute
to conflict, cooperation and interdependence among groups, societies and
nations. Analyze or formulate policy statements demonstrating an understanding
of concerns, standards, issues and conflicts related to universal human
Author Sally Fredriksen is a Retired Fairfax
County Teacher 2002 Certified in Social Studies and Sociology in Secondary
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