Religious persecution means unfair treatment of a particular group of people because of their religion. It aims at forcing the religious to go away or give up their religion. "Persecution" comes from a Latin word meaning "chase", and usually meant chasing someone in order to kill them. In later centuries the term was applied to other actions. Religious persecution may occur in the following forms:
- violence, including pogroms
- social discrimination
- not giving a job to a person because of his religion
Incidents of persecution are periodically reported in many countries. For example in case of India, the United States Department of State in its annual human rights report for 2006 noted attacks against the people of religious groups who are small in number. State Department's annual reports on religious freedom for 2007 expressed concern over organized societal attacks against religious minority in India. Some state governments in India have been accused of not effectively prosecuting those who attack religious minorities. In Iran, Bahá'í Faith is banned.
When the term "religious cleansing" is used, it usually means when a group of people is removed from a certain area. In classical antiquity, religious cleansing was usually done because of economic and political reasons. Sometimes there were also ethnic reasons.