Alawi

Branch of Islam which broke away from the Shia doctrine in the IXth century, founded by Ibn Nucair Namin Abdi.
Alawi followers mainly live in Syria, in the coastal plain. With a population estimated at about 1,500,000 they would represent 11% of the Syrian population. They are the most important religious minority in this country, closely followed by the Christians of all rites.
Syrian President Hafez al-Assad is himself Alawi.