the act of persecuting.
the state of being persecuted.
a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a people because of their religion, race, or beliefs: the persecutions of Christians by the Romans.

1300–50; Middle English persecucio(u)n < Late Latin persecūtiōn- (stem of persecūtiō), Latin: prosecution, equivalent to persecūt(us) past participle of persequī (see persecute) + -iōn- -ion

persecutional, adjective
nonpersecution, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
persecution (ˌpɜːsɪˈkjuːʃən)
the act of persecuting or the state of being persecuted

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

c.1340, "oppression for the holding of a belief or opinion," from O.Fr. persecution (12c.), from L. persecutionem (nom. persecutio), noun of action from persequi "pursue, start a legal action," from per- "through" + sequi "follow" (see sequel). The verb persecute is attested
from 1482 in the sense of "to oppress for the holding of a belief or opinion," from M.Fr. persécuter "pursue, torment, open legal action" (14c.), from L. persecutus, pp. of persequi. Psychological persecution complex is recorded from 1961; earlier persecution mania (1892).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Persecution definition

The first great persecution for religious opinion of which we have any record was that which broke out against the worshippers of God among the Jews in the days of Ahab, when that king, at the instigation of his wife Jezebel, "a woman in whom, with the reckless and licentious habits of an Oriental queen, were united the fiercest and sternest qualities inherent in the old Semitic race", sought in the most relentless manner to extirpate the worship of Jehovah and substitute in its place the worship of Ashtoreth and Baal. Ahab's example in this respect was followed by Manasseh, who "shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another" (2 Kings 21:16; comp. 24:4). In all ages, in one form or another, the people of God have had to suffer persecution. In its earliest history the Christian church passed through many bloody persecutions. Of subsequent centuries in our own and in other lands the same sad record may be made. Christians are forbidden to seek the propagation of the gospel by force (Matt. 7:1; Luke 9:54-56; Rom. 14:4; James 4:11, 12). The words of Ps. 7:13, "He ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors," ought rather to be, as in the Revised Version, "He maketh his arrows fiery [shafts]."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
This is a shocking new level of police state persecution.
The reason the co-op spread like wild fire is because these people are proud
  still after centuries of persecution.
The group's report in April cited the persecution of civil rights activists and
  the censoring of domestic media.
The disease is characterized by delusions of persecution and, quite often, by
  delusions of grandeur.
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