The Pashtuns and Hazaras are two of the ethnic groups found in Afghanistan (and other parts of the Middle East). The Pashtuns are the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, comprising about 42% of the population. The Hazaras make up about 9% of the population; once a larger group, they were decimated by the ethnic cleansing of the Taliban during the early part of the 21st century. In The Kite Runner, Amir and Baba (as well as Assef) are Pashtuns; Ali and Hassan are Hazaras. Sunni and Shi'a (Shi'ite) are the two main branches of the Islam religion: Sunni Muslims are the predominant group in Afghanistan, and they observe a more orthodox view of the religion. Most of the Pashtuns are Sunni Muslims. Shi'a Muslims make up less than 20% of the Afghan population, and Hazaras are predominantly Shi'a Muslims. Farsi is the Persian language spoken throughout Afghanistan, Iran and other parts of the Middle East.