@CobaltChloride - those are amazing finds. Having South Africa with an electoral system more like New Zealand or Denmark, rather than its OTL one, really shakes things up. If anything, the ANC looks to be even more dominant.
The Safavids were a Shia Kurdish dynasty from Iranian Azerbaijan. To keep Iran Sunni, all you need is for the Safavids (or some ATL equivalent) from taking power.
Meanwhile, have the Nottomans be a Shia Turkic dynasty from...
With French (and other languages as well), preserving old spelling can help differentiate homophones from one another*.
An example from English - the words Hospital, Hostel and Hotel all come the same Medieval Latin word hospitale, via French, from different periods.
*Other languages and...