Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religious beliefs or affiliations or their lack thereof. The tendency of societies or groups within societies to alienate or repress different subcultures is a recurrent theme in human history. Moreover, because a person's religion often determines their sense of morality, worldview, self-image, attitudes towards others, and overall personal identity to a significant extent, religious differences can be significant cultural, personal, and social factors.
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Religious persecution may be triggered by religious bigotry (i.e. when members of a dominant group denigrate religions other than their own) or it may be triggered by the state when it views a particular religious group as a threat to its interests or security. At a societal level, the dehumanization of a particular religious group may readily lead to violence or other forms of persecution. Religious persecution may be the result of societal and/or governmental regulation. Government regulation refer to the laws imposed by the government to regulate a religion, and societal regulation is the discrimination of citizens towards one or more religions. Indeed, in many countries, religious persecution has resulted in so much violence that it is considered a human rights problem.