A dissident is a person who actively challenges an established political or religious system, doctrine, belief, policy, or institution.[1] In a religious context, the word has been used since the 18th century, and in the political sense since the 1920s, coinciding with the rise of totalitarian governments in countries such as Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Saudi Arabia, South Africa under Apartheid, and Iran.[2] In the Western world, there are historical examples of people who have been considered and have considered themselves dissidents, such as the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.[not verified in body] In totalitarian countries, dissidents are often incarcerated without explicit political accusations, or due to infringements of the very same laws they are opposing, or because they are supporting civil liberties such as freedom of speech.

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