AskDefine | Define persecute

Dictionary Definition

persecute v : cause to suffer; "Jews were persecuted in the former Soviet Union" [syn: oppress]

User Contributed Dictionary



persécueter, persequi, persecutus, to pursue, prosecute; per- + sequi to follow, pursue.


  1. To pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict; to beset with cruelty or malignity; to harass; especially, to afflict, harass, punish, or put to death for adherence to a particular religious creed or mode of worship.
    "Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." -Matt. v. 44.
  2. To harass with importunity; to pursue with persistent solicitations; to annoy.


To pursue in a manner to injure, grieve, or afflict
To harass with importunity

Extensive Definition

Persecution is the active, systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group or individual. The most common forms are ethnic persecution, religious persecution, and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms.

International law

As part of the Nuremberg Principles, crimes against humanity are part of international law. Principle IV of the Nuremberg Principles states that Telford Taylor, who was Counsel for the Prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials wrote "[at] the Nuremberg war crimes trials, the tribunals rebuffed several efforts by the prosecution to bring such 'domestic' atrocities within the scope of international law as 'crimes against humanity'".
Several subsequent international treaties incorporate this principle, but some have dropped the restriction "in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime" that is in Nuremberg Principles the for example although only binding on the 60 states that have ratified it, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court) includes in Article 7 the definition for crimes against humanity, and clause 7.1 states "For the purpose of this Statute, "crime against humanity" means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: ... (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; ... ".

Religious persecution

Religious persecution is systematic mistreatment of an individual or group due to their religious affiliation.
Not only theorists of secularization (who presume a decline of religiosity in general) would willingly assume that religious persecution is a thing of the past. However, with the rise of fundamentalism and religiously related terrorism, this assumption has become even more controversial. Indeed, in many countries of the world today, religious persecution is a human rights problem.

Persecution of atheists

Atheists have experienced persecution throughout history. Persecution may refer to unwarranted arrest, imprisonment, beating, torture, or execution. It also may refer to the confiscation or destruction of property.

Persecution of Bahá'ís

The persecution of Bahá'ís refers to the religious persecution of Bahá'ís in various countries, especially in Iran, the location of one of the largest Bahá'í populations in the world. The Bahá'í Faith originated in Iran, and represents the largest religious minority in that country.
Bahá'ís and various third party entities such as the United Nations, Amnesty International, the European Union, the United States and peer-reviewed academic literature have stated that the members of the Bahá'í community in Iran have been subjected to unwarranted arrests, false imprisonment, beatings, torture, unjustified executions, confiscation and destruction of property owned by individuals and the Bahá'í community, denial of employment, denial of government benefits, denial of civil rights and liberties, and denial of access to higher education. It should be noted that Christians have partaken in the persecution themselves. Throughout history it is estimated that Christians have killed just as many themselves, due to religious intolerance, as they have lost. Currently, persecution of Christians is most severe in North Korea. In India, attacks by Hindu extremist against Christians occurs, especially in the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Orissa. According to a report by the Center for Religious Freedom the attacks include the murder of missionaries and priests, the sexual assault of nuns, the ransacking of churches, convents and other Christian institutions. Graham Staines, an Australian missionary, and his 2 children were burnt to death by a group of Hindu activists led by Dara Singh. In 2007 Orissa Violence, attacks were targeted by Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other Hindutva groups at Christian community and at least 70 churches and 600 houses were attacked and torched by Hindu extremists.

Persecution of Hindus

Persecution of Hindus refers to the religious persecution inflicted upon Hindus. Historically the most persecuted religion, two examples are during Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent and during Portuguese rule of Goa. In modern times, Hindus in Kashmir, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uganda and Fiji have also suffered persecution, along with facing Christian extremism in the Western world.

Persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses

Throughout the history of Jehovah's Witnesses, their beliefs, doctrines and practices have engendered controversy and opposition from the local governments, communities, or religious groups.

Persecution of Jews

The persecution of Jews occurred many times in Jewish history.

Persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

With the extermination order Mormons have the distinct privilege of being the only Religious group to have a state of the United States legalize the extermination of their religion. The Mormons suffered through tarring and feathering, their lands being taken from them, mob attacks, and the US sending an army to Utah to deal with the "Mormon problem" in the Utah War. A government militia slaughtered Mormons in what is now known as the Haun's Mill massacre. The Founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith was killed in Carthage, Illinois by a mob of about 200 men. Currently Mormons still appear to have ill will towards them. In the 2008 US presidential race Mitt Romney's capability as president was attacked by mainstream Christians based on his membership in the LDS Church.

Persecution of Muslims

Persecution of Muslims is a recurring phenomenon during the history of Islam. Persecution may refer to unwarranted arrest, imprisonment, beating, torture, or execution. It also may refer to the confiscation or destruction of property, or incitement to hate Muslims. Persecution can extend beyond those who perceive themselves as Muslims to include those who are perceived by others as Muslims, or to Muslims which are considered by fellow Muslims as non-Muslims. In India, there are events of persecution of Muslims by Hindu activists. In 1992, the Babri Mosque was demolished by the Sangh Parivar family of organizations on the basis of their controversial assertion that a Hindu temple belonging to a Hindu god existed at the site before the erection of the Mosque. The 2002 Gujarat violence officially led to the death of 1044 people, 754 Muslims and 290 Hindus.Human Rights Watch puts the death toll at higher figures, with 2000 deaths, mostly Muslim.

Persecution of Shia Muslims

Ethnic persecution

Ethnic persecution refers to perceived persecution based on ethnicity. Its meaning is parallel to racism, (based on race).

Persecution of Germans

The persecution of ethnic Germans refers to systematic activity against groups of ethnic Germans based on their ethnicity.
Historically, this has been due to two causes: the German population were considered, whether factually or not, linked with German nationalist regimes such as those of the Nazis or Kaiser Wilhelm. This was the case in the World War I era persecution of Germans in the United States, and also in Eastern and Central Europe following the end of World War II. While many victims of these persecutions did not, in fact, have any connection to those regimes, cooperation between German minority organisations and Nazi regime did occur, as the example of Selbstschutz shows, which is still used as a pretense of hostilities against those who did not take part in such organisations. After World War II, many such Volksdeutsche were killed or driven from their homes in acts of vengeance, others in ethnic cleansing of territories prior to populating them with citizens of the annexing country. In other cases (e.g. in the case of the formerly large German-speaking populations of Russia, Estonia, or the Transylvanian (Siebenbürgen) German minority in Rumania and the Balkans) such persecution was a crime committed against innocent communities who had played no part in the Third Reich.

See also

persecute in Danish: Forfølgelse
persecute in German: Verfolgung von Minderheiten
persecute in Spanish: Persecución
persecute in Korean: 박해
persecute in Italian: Persecuzione
persecute in Japanese: 迫害
persecute in Portuguese: Perseguição
persecute in Finnish: Vaino
persecute in Turkish: Zulüm

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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