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Persecution is persistent mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution and ethnic persecution. The terms have some overlap, as religion is an aspect of culture that can be a barrier.

The most common scenario is a majority group persecuting a minority group, since the reverse is usually impractical, although apartheid in South Africa is considered an exception. Majority groups, however, can inspire resentment where they are locally a minority and find themselves persecuted; persons of an ethnic majority who venture within a large minority neighborhood may experience or simple perceive a hostility towards them. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution [Nov 2004]

Oppression [...]

Oppression is the arbitrary and cruel exercise of power. While the term is usually used to describe wrongful acts of government, oppression is rarely limited solely to government action. Oppression is most commonly felt and expressed by a widespread, if unconscious, assumption that a certain class of people are inferior. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppression [Nov 2004]

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