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The anti-royalist cartoon Les Poires by Daumier after Philipon.

"It is well known that in the Soviet Union today large numbers of dissenters are being declared insane."--incipit of Manual on Psychiatry for Dissidents (1974)

This page Dissident is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
This page Dissident is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.

Related e



A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. In a religious context, the word has been used since 18th century, and in the political sense since 1940, coinciding with the rise of totalitarian systems, especially the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Saudi Arabia.



From Latin dissidēns, dissidentis, present participle of dissidēre (“to sit apart; to disagree”), from dis- (“asunder, apart, in two”) + sedēre (“to sit”).

Eastern bloc dissidents

The term dissident was used in the Eastern bloc, particularly in the Soviet Union, in the period following Joseph Stalin's death until the fall of communism. It was attached to citizens who criticized the practices or the authority of the Communist Party. The people who used to write and distribute non-censored, non-conformist samizdat literature were criticized in the official newspapers. Soon, many of those who were dissatisfied with the Soviet Bloc began to self-identify as dissidents. This radically changed the meaning of the term: instead of being used in reference to an individual who opposes society, it came to refer to an individual whose non-conformism was perceived to be for the good of a society. An important element of dissident activity in the USSR was informing society (both inside the Soviet Union and in foreign countries) about violation of laws and human rights: see Chronicle of Current Events and Moscow Helsinki Group. Some famous Soviet dissidents were Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov.

Dissidents from the Middle East

Jamal Khashoggi was a Saudi-American dissident and journalist. He was murdered inside a Turkish embassy by Saudi Arabian authorities.

Various other Human rights activists from Saudi Arabia have been either silenced or punished. This also happens if the individual is outside the country. Deportation is used if they are not Saudis.

Other countries such as Iran, the United Arab Emirates and others have also punished many people. Political dissent refers to any expression designed to convey dissatisfaction with or opposition to the policies of a governing body. Such expression may take forms from vocal disagreement to civil disobedience to the use of violence. In most democratic countries, non-violent demonstration and disagreement with the government are regarded as fundamental human rights.

Historically, repressive governments have sought to punish political dissent. The protection of freedoms that facilitate peaceful dissent has become a hallmark of liberal democracies and open societies. Repression of political dissent is considered as an attempt to stifle public discourse about government lies, corruption, or ineptitude.


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Dissident" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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