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(also called Alawi or Nusairis).

(1) Followers of a Shiite sect of the same name. The Alawites took their name from the Caliph Ali, who is venerated as the embodiment of god. The other name, Nusairis, comes from the name of Ibn Nusair (ninth century), who is considered to be the founder of the sect. The Alawites live in Syria and southern Turkey. Their beliefs are close to the beliefs of the Ismailis, but also include elements of ancient Eastern astral cults and of Christianity. The Alawites worship the sun and the moon, believe in the transmigration of souls, celebrate several Christian holidays and have Christian names.

(2) A dynasty in Morocco (from 1664); it is also called the Filali or Filali Sharifs.

References in periodicals archive ?
Alawites are largely thought of as uniformally loyal to the Assad regime
The Alawites of Syria are Nusairi, belonging to a distant but secretive branch of Ja'fari Shi'ism.
But through these volunteers, he reached the conclusion that, while many Alawites were still prepared to die for Assad, the majority of this minority wanted to see such a ruler go because he caused this "huge mess".
Even the Alawites have balked at joining the Assad army.
The so-called Arab Spring led to people conflating Assad with Alawites, Hezbollah with Shiites, and Daesh with Sunnis.
Golani said Alawites were part of a sect that had "moved outside the religion of God and of Islam.
The regime's notable cohort of Alawite leaders and the support that it draws from many Alawites and other ethnic and religious minorities as a bulwark against the majority Sunni population that has spearheaded the revolt is also cited as a key factor for its durability.
According to Jumblatt, such attacks against the Alawites served the interests of the Syrian regime, since they would thrust this community into clinging to the regime next door, "while upsizing rebels is sought to include the Alawites.
Shia sects, including Alawites and Ismailis, accounted for 13 percent, various Christian groups ten percent, and the Druze three percent.
Khaddur's detention has further angered many in the Alawite community, which had typically been more reticent about public dissent even as the Syrian civil war since late 2011 had left only few Alawites killed by anti-Assad forces.
Tripoli's Sunnis and Alawites have clashed sporadically for decades but the Syrian conflict has worsened tensions, with each side accusing the other of using the city as a base for sending fighters and weapons in and out of Syria.
After several weeks of relative calm, clashes broke out between Alawites in the city's Jabal Mohsen district and Sunnis in the neighbouring Bab al-Tebbaneh area in which 14 other people were hurt.