Discussion:
Showing Solidarity with Muslim Americans under Siege
(too old to reply)
Catherine Jefferson
2015-12-27 20:09:38 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
A couple of months ago, somebody (I don't remember who) called on
non-Muslim American women to wear a headscarf in public to show
solidarity with Muslim women who believe their religion requires them to
wear a scarf or veil in public. Yesterday a couple of Muslim women with
non-standard views about hijab wrote an article objecting to this
movement. That article was published in the Washington Post, here:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/21/as-muslim-women-we-actually-ask-you-not-to-wear-the-hijab-in-the-name-of-interfaith-solidarity/

A Muslim woman who wears hijab (Saba Syed, who is usually called Umm
Reem) responded to this article here:

http://muslimmatters.org/2015/12/27/this-muslim-woman-asks-you-not-to-undermine-hijab/#comment-148254

I responded to the second article for two reasons. First, everything
that I have learned about Islam here and elsewhere in the past 25 years
tells me that Umm Reem's response is solidly grounded in majority
Islamic beliefs and thinking. It's also unusually well written.

Second and more important to me, as a non-Muslim American woman I've
been watching with horror at growing anti-Islamic bigotry in America.
Too many Americans confuse Islam with the extremist beliefs of
terrorists. They are conflating ordinary Muslims and extremist terrorism
supporters into a single undifferentiated group.

In other words, many Americans now are ignorant, scared, and are acting
as Americans often have in the past when ignorant and scared -- turning
on scapegoats. :/ This behavior is a threat not just to Muslims, but to
America itself.

This was what I posted in response to the second article, with a couple
of fixes for skipped words and typos (I hit "post" too fast) :):

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

I’m not Muslim; I’m Orthodox Christian. I’m tolerably familiar with
Islam and Muslims after 20+ years moderating a forum about Islam,
though. This is a *very* well written, mainstream response to a
non-orthodox (small “o”) Islamic view on the obligation of Muslim women
to wear a head covering. I’d urge my fellow Christians and other
American women to pay attention, especially if you have considered
wearing a headscarf in solidarity with American Muslim women.

In my opinion, the value of a non-Muslim American wearing a headscarf
goes beyond signaling solidarity with Muslim women who believe they are
obligated to do so. It signals our agreement as Americans with the First
Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees religious liberty and
provides the foundation for separating the roles of religion and
government. It signals that we do not confuse Islam with terrorism, or
approve of blaming all members of a religion because a few members of
that religion are murderous bigots. For Christians, it signals our own
awareness that we too have murderous bigots among us and don’t want to
be judged with them simply because we are Christian.

The degree of hatred that political figures and many ordinary Americans
have expressed recently against normal, garden-variety Muslims is
terrible, and terrifying to those who recognize it for what it is. It’s
the ugly counterexample that shows up any time normal Americans feel
threatened by outsiders. In the past, this fear has led to segregation
and hatred of indigenous Americans (“American Indians”), the descendants
of African slaves, and immigrants ranging from the Irish during the
potato famine, Italians and eastern Europeans (many of them Jews) in the
early 20th century, and Japanese Americans during the second World War.

This ignorance- and fear-generated bigotry is a threat not just to
Muslim women, and not just to all Muslims, but to the American
experiment. Through it we have alienated and driven from this country
people who would otherwise have made significant, valuable contributions
to our society and culture. One of those was W. E. B. DuBois, the first
African American graduate of Harvard University and one of America’s
great authors and philosophers. DuBois ended his life as an exile in
Africa, having left the country of his birth and greatest achievements
in despair because so many Americans could not find it in their minds or
hearts to accept him as an equal — a fellow citizen and human being.

You’d think we would learn from our mistakes. You’d think people would
see the same pattern when dealing with fellow Americans and immigrants
whose ancestors came from China, Japan, south Asia and the Middle East.
Some of us seem to lack that ability. :/

I don’t urge all of my fellow non-Muslim American women to wear
headscarves in public. That might not be your role or how you express
your support for people under siege. But I do urge you to realize the
importance of speaking up and being counted.
--
Catherine Jefferson <***@ergosphere.net>
Blog/Personal: http://www.ergosphere.net
David Amicus
2015-12-28 04:15:01 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Catherine Jefferson
A couple of months ago, somebody (I don't remember who) called on
non-Muslim American women to wear a headscarf in public to show
solidarity with Muslim women who believe their religion requires them to
wear a scarf or veil in public. Yesterday a couple of Muslim women with
non-standard views about hijab wrote an article objecting to this
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/21/as-muslim-women-we-actually-ask-you-not-to-wear-the-hijab-in-the-name-of-interfaith-solidarity/
A Muslim woman who wears hijab (Saba Syed, who is usually called Umm
http://muslimmatters.org/2015/12/27/this-muslim-woman-asks-you-not-to-undermine-hijab/#comment-148254
I responded to the second article for two reasons. First, everything
that I have learned about Islam here and elsewhere in the past 25 years
tells me that Umm Reem's response is solidly grounded in majority
Islamic beliefs and thinking. It's also unusually well written.
Second and more important to me, as a non-Muslim American woman I've
been watching with horror at growing anti-Islamic bigotry in America.
Too many Americans confuse Islam with the extremist beliefs of
terrorists. They are conflating ordinary Muslims and extremist terrorism
supporters into a single undifferentiated group.
In other words, many Americans now are ignorant, scared, and are acting
as Americans often have in the past when ignorant and scared -- turning
on scapegoats. :/ This behavior is a threat not just to Muslims, but to
America itself.
This was what I posted in response to the second article, with a couple
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
I'm not Muslim; I'm Orthodox Christian. I'm tolerably familiar with
Islam and Muslims after 20+ years moderating a forum about Islam,
though. This is a *very* well written, mainstream response to a
non-orthodox (small "o") Islamic view on the obligation of Muslim women
to wear a head covering. I'd urge my fellow Christians and other
American women to pay attention, especially if you have considered
wearing a headscarf in solidarity with American Muslim women.
In my opinion, the value of a non-Muslim American wearing a headscarf
goes beyond signaling solidarity with Muslim women who believe they are
obligated to do so. It signals our agreement as Americans with the First
Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees religious liberty and
provides the foundation for separating the roles of religion and
government. It signals that we do not confuse Islam with terrorism, or
approve of blaming all members of a religion because a few members of
that religion are murderous bigots. For Christians, it signals our own
awareness that we too have murderous bigots among us and don't want to
be judged with them simply because we are Christian.
The degree of hatred that political figures and many ordinary Americans
have expressed recently against normal, garden-variety Muslims is
terrible, and terrifying to those who recognize it for what it is. It's
the ugly counterexample that shows up any time normal Americans feel
threatened by outsiders. In the past, this fear has led to segregation
and hatred of indigenous Americans ("American Indians"), the descendants
of African slaves, and immigrants ranging from the Irish during the
potato famine, Italians and eastern Europeans (many of them Jews) in the
early 20th century, and Japanese Americans during the second World War.
This ignorance- and fear-generated bigotry is a threat not just to
Muslim women, and not just to all Muslims, but to the American
experiment. Through it we have alienated and driven from this country
people who would otherwise have made significant, valuable contributions
to our society and culture. One of those was W. E. B. DuBois, the first
African American graduate of Harvard University and one of America's
great authors and philosophers. DuBois ended his life as an exile in
Africa, having left the country of his birth and greatest achievements
in despair because so many Americans could not find it in their minds or
hearts to accept him as an equal -- a fellow citizen and human being.
You'd think we would learn from our mistakes. You'd think people would
see the same pattern when dealing with fellow Americans and immigrants
whose ancestors came from China, Japan, south Asia and the Middle East.
Some of us seem to lack that ability. :/
I don't urge all of my fellow non-Muslim American women to wear
headscarves in public. That might not be your role or how you express
your support for people under siege. But I do urge you to realize the
importance of speaking up and being counted.
--
Blog/Personal: http://www.ergosphere.net
What about the wearing of a Green Ribbon? That was done in Britain in 2005.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_ribbon#Awareness_of_political_and_cultural_issues
Yusuf B Gursey
2015-12-28 10:04:16 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
On Sunday, December 27, 2015 at 10:10:02 PM UTC+2, Catherine Jefferson wrot=
Post by Catherine Jefferson
A couple of months ago, somebody (I don't remember who) called on
non-Muslim American women to wear a headscarf in public to show
solidarity with Muslim women who believe their religion requires them to
wear a scarf or veil in public. Yesterday a couple of Muslim women with
non-standard views about hijab wrote an article objecting to this
=20
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/21/as-muslim=
-women-we-actually-ask-you-not-to-wear-the-hijab-in-the-name-of-interfaith-=
solidarity/
Post by Catherine Jefferson
=20
A Muslim woman who wears hijab (Saba Syed, who is usually called Umm
=20
http://muslimmatters.org/2015/12/27/this-muslim-woman-asks-you-not-to-und=
ermine-hijab/#comment-148254
Post by Catherine Jefferson
=20
I responded to the second article for two reasons. First, everything
that I have learned about Islam here and elsewhere in the past 25 years
tells me that Umm Reem's response is solidly grounded in majority
Islamic beliefs and thinking. It's also unusually well written.
As an aside that xamr comes from "covering one's mind" is based on a play o=
f words attributed to Umar when asked about the definition of wine. The cla=
ssical dictionaries state that wine is made from from grapes or dates. In t=
he hadith Umar adds more substances and ends by saying "whatever covers one=
's mind". In truth we have from the same root xami:r "leaven". The covering=
refers to fermentation which occurs in oxygen poor, i.e. covered environem=
nts.


Qur'anic verses have frequently been used to overstep their intended bounds=
, so why not interpret them to obtain some leaway. That the verses should b=
e interpreted in historic context ('asba:bu~l-nuzu:l - "Reason's for Revela=
tion") and adapted using reason is also established practice. That is a mat=
ter of faith and interpretation I won't pass judgement on.

The writers of the first article make a good point: There is the stereotype=
of the Muslim woman with a hijab (not just any form of headcovering) ignor=
ing millions of Muslim women, many of them believers, without any headscarf=
or with headscarves of a traditional but local variety.

The first article is also correct in saying that the trend was for women in=
Islamic countries to abandon traditional modes of dress until the Iranian =
Revolution made it a political symbol and conservative or reactionary Sunni=
movements followed.

At least in Turkey various modes of wrapping and colors of the hijab indica=
te following certain political / religious movements. There are even hijabs=
in bright, unconventional colors that simply defeat its purpose by attract=
ing attention.=20

I for one taught physics in university in Turkey while there was an enforce=
ment of the headscarf ban. A female student with a headscarf sat on the 1st=
row (a large, crowded classroom) on the 1st day of class obviously to test=
my reaction and I ignored her and did not say anything about the ban in cl=
ass either. I also privately objected to the policy in that it reflected bo=
urgeios snobbery since it targeted the student and the proffessor and ignor=
ed the headcovering of the female workers. =20
=20
Post by Catherine Jefferson
=20
Second and more important to me, as a non-Muslim American woman I've
been watching with horror at growing anti-Islamic bigotry in America.
Too many Americans confuse Islam with the extremist beliefs of
terrorists. They are conflating ordinary Muslims and extremist terrorism
supporters into a single undifferentiated group.
=20
I agree, but pandering to the stereotype that all Muslim women cover their =
hair adds fuel to this rather than fighting it.

Also there is the stereotype of the bearded Muslim man. I happen to have a =
beard because I like it. =20
Post by Catherine Jefferson
In other words, many Americans now are ignorant, scared, and are acting
as Americans often have in the past when ignorant and scared -- turning
on scapegoats. :/ This behavior is a threat not just to Muslims, but to
America itself.
=20
This was what I posted in response to the second article, with a couple
=20
=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D-=3D
=20
I'm not Muslim; I'm Orthodox Christian. I'm tolerably familiar with
Islam and Muslims after 20+ years moderating a forum about Islam,
though. This is a *very* well written, mainstream response to a
non-orthodox (small "o") Islamic view on the obligation of Muslim women
to wear a head covering. I'd urge my fellow Christians and other
American women to pay attention, especially if you have considered
wearing a headscarf in solidarity with American Muslim women.
=20
In my opinion, the value of a non-Muslim American wearing a headscarf
goes beyond signaling solidarity with Muslim women who believe they are
obligated to do so. It signals our agreement as Americans with the First
"who believe obligated to do so" is crucial. But let us not forget that the=
re are also those who do not.
Post by Catherine Jefferson
Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees religious liberty and
provides the foundation for separating the roles of religion and
government. It signals that we do not confuse Islam with terrorism, or
approve of blaming all members of a religion because a few members of
that religion are murderous bigots. For Christians, it signals our own
awareness that we too have murderous bigots among us and don't want to
be judged with them simply because we are Christian.
=20
The degree of hatred that political figures and many ordinary Americans
have expressed recently against normal, garden-variety Muslims is
terrible, and terrifying to those who recognize it for what it is. It's
the ugly counterexample that shows up any time normal Americans feel
threatened by outsiders. In the past, this fear has led to segregation
and hatred of indigenous Americans ("American Indians"), the descendants
of African slaves, and immigrants ranging from the Irish during the
potato famine, Italians and eastern Europeans (many of them Jews) in the
early 20th century, and Japanese Americans during the second World War.
=20
This ignorance- and fear-generated bigotry is a threat not just to
Muslim women, and not just to all Muslims, but to the American
experiment. Through it we have alienated and driven from this country
people who would otherwise have made significant, valuable contributions
to our society and culture. One of those was W. E. B. DuBois, the first
African American graduate of Harvard University and one of America's
great authors and philosophers. DuBois ended his life as an exile in
Africa, having left the country of his birth and greatest achievements
in despair because so many Americans could not find it in their minds or
hearts to accept him as an equal -- a fellow citizen and human being.
=20
You'd think we would learn from our mistakes. You'd think people would
see the same pattern when dealing with fellow Americans and immigrants
whose ancestors came from China, Japan, south Asia and the Middle East.
Some of us seem to lack that ability. :/
=20
I don't urge all of my fellow non-Muslim American women to wear
headscarves in public. That might not be your role or how you express
your support for people under siege. But I do urge you to realize the
importance of speaking up and being counted.
=20
=20
--=20
Blog/Personal: http://www.ergosphere.net
Catherine Jefferson
2015-12-28 17:11:56 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Yusuf B Gursey
Qur'anic verses have frequently been used to overstep their intended
bounds, so why not interpret them to obtain some leaway. That the
verses should b interpreted in historic context ('asba:bu~l-nuzu:l -
"Reason's for Revelation") and adapted using reason is also
established practice. That is a matter of faith and interpretation I
won't pass judgement on.
<snip, but read>

This all makes sense to me. But I'm not Muslim, so it isn't my job to
figure out what the Qur'an or Islam teaches others to do. (It wouldn't
be my job if I *were* Muslim.) However, there's no doubt that many
Muslim women believe that wearing hijab is mandatory -- the majority, as
best I can tell.

Unfortunately, wearing a headscarf in public in 21st century America
(and Europe, and many other countries) makes a Muslim woman stand out in
ways that a beard does not make a Muslim man stand out. Beards are
fairly common in America. I don't know whether anybody has done a formal
study, but anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that traditional Muslim
women who wear traditional headscarves attract the lion's share of
attacks from bigots. This certainly has been the case among those I know.

My post wasn't really about Islam or Muslims. It was about a problem
with how the mostly non-Muslim citizens of my country, the United States
of America, are dealing with threats of terrorism from ISIS/Daesh and
similar groups. The core problem appears to be that fatal combination of
ignorance and fear. A Muslim woman wearing hijab in public in America
challenges that ignorance and that fear simply by being seen. Hijab
functions as a visual trigger.

Usually when dealing with violent bigots, stalkers, and similar sorts,
the best tactic is not to engage. Don't talk to them, don't meet their
gaze, and try as far as possible not to attract attention. Traditional
Muslim men can do this by dressing in western clothing, most of which
meets even traditional Muslim standards of modesty for men. Less
traditional women can do the same -- dress in conservative western
clothing. But traditional women *can't* go without a headscarf without
believing that they have violated their religion's commands.

*That* is what led to the call for non-Muslim American women to wear
hijab in public. The point isn't just to show solidarity with Muslim
women, but to disarm the visual trigger of hijab. If the intent were
merely to show solidarity, David's suggestion of a ribbon would work
just as well. The idea is that if many non-Muslim women wear
headscarves in public regularly, headscarf-wearing Muslim and non-Muslim
women can't be easily distinguished. This change denies the types of
bigots who attack complete strangers in public the necessary information
to target their attacks.

The cool thing is that this also works for Muslim women who do not feel
obligated to wear headscarves in public. If any woman (Muslim or not)
might be wearing a headscarf, *and* any woman (Muslim or not) might not,
bigots who attack Muslims can't easily find targets.

It stinks that people who have done nothing wrong and have no interest
whatsoever in launching terrorist attacks against anybody are facing
discrimination and attack because of terrorism. :/ But in this world
some people are bigots, and some bigots are prone to violence and are
dangerous.

I think that people who are in a position to do so *should* challenge
bigotry and fear directly. As an older woman who has the means (physical
and social) to defend herself, I do. But younger women, immigrants, and
especially mothers with children can't do the same without exposing
themselves and other innocent people to retaliation. :/ For their own
safety, they need a way not to be noticed.
--
Catherine Jefferson <***@ergosphere.net>
Blog/Personal: http://www.ergosphere.net
Yusuf B Gursey
2015-12-29 02:52:09 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
On Monday, December 28, 2015 at 7:20:04 PM UTC+2, Catherine Jefferson wrote=
Post by Catherine Jefferson
Post by Yusuf B Gursey
Qur'anic verses have frequently been used to overstep their intended
bounds, so why not interpret them to obtain some leaway. That the
verses should b interpreted in historic context ('asba:bu~l-nuzu:l -
"Reason's for Revelation") and adapted using reason is also
established practice. That is a matter of faith and interpretation I
won't pass judgement on.
=20
<snip, but read>
=20
This all makes sense to me. But I'm not Muslim, so it isn't my job to
figure out what the Qur'an or Islam teaches others to do. (It wouldn't
be my job if I *were* Muslim.) However, there's no doubt that many
But you hit upon an inter-Muslim debate.
Post by Catherine Jefferson
Muslim women believe that wearing hijab is mandatory -- the majority, as
best I can tell.
Most Muslim majority are in an arid belt and until recently at least had a =
mostly rural population. Covering hair and head against the Sun, wind, dust=
and other elements is simply good sense for both men and women regardless =
of religion in these regions. As urban life increased this became less of a=
natural imperative and the commandment was re-interpreted by increasing nu=
mbers. Political and religious trends reversed this proccess to the extent =
that a particular style of wrapping is driving out other local headgear for=
Muslim women. =20

I agree Muslim women, particularly those wearing a hijab face descriminatio=
n in the US and shouldn't. But I also feel that the public should be aware =
of the diversity that exists within the Muslim community. This is also esse=
ntial in fighting bigotry and stereotypes. The US should know that there ar=
e Muslims "just like them" without having the faith of those questioned.=20
Post by Catherine Jefferson
=20
Unfortunately, wearing a headscarf in public in 21st century America
(and Europe, and many other countries) makes a Muslim woman stand out in
ways that a beard does not make a Muslim man stand out. Beards are
fairly common in America. I don't know whether anybody has done a formal
study, but anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that traditional Muslim
women who wear traditional headscarves attract the lion's share of
attacks from bigots. This certainly has been the case among those I know.
=20
My post wasn't really about Islam or Muslims. It was about a problem
with how the mostly non-Muslim citizens of my country, the United States
David Amicus
2015-12-28 23:32:19 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Catherine Jefferson
A couple of months ago, somebody (I don't remember who) called on
non-Muslim American women to wear a headscarf in public to show
solidarity with Muslim women who believe their religion requires them to
wear a scarf or veil in public. Yesterday a couple of Muslim women with
non-standard views about hijab wrote an article objecting to this
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/12/21/as-muslim-women-we-actually-ask-you-not-to-wear-the-hijab-in-the-name-of-interfaith-solidarity/
A Muslim woman who wears hijab (Saba Syed, who is usually called Umm
http://muslimmatters.org/2015/12/27/this-muslim-woman-asks-you-not-to-undermine-hijab/#comment-148254
I responded to the second article for two reasons. First, everything
that I have learned about Islam here and elsewhere in the past 25 years
tells me that Umm Reem's response is solidly grounded in majority
Islamic beliefs and thinking. It's also unusually well written.
Second and more important to me, as a non-Muslim American woman I've
been watching with horror at growing anti-Islamic bigotry in America.
Too many Americans confuse Islam with the extremist beliefs of
terrorists. They are conflating ordinary Muslims and extremist terrorism
supporters into a single undifferentiated group.
In other words, many Americans now are ignorant, scared, and are acting
as Americans often have in the past when ignorant and scared -- turning
on scapegoats. :/ This behavior is a threat not just to Muslims, but to
America itself.
This was what I posted in response to the second article, with a couple
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
I'm not Muslim; I'm Orthodox Christian. I'm tolerably familiar with
Islam and Muslims after 20+ years moderating a forum about Islam,
though. This is a *very* well written, mainstream response to a
non-orthodox (small "o") Islamic view on the obligation of Muslim women
to wear a head covering. I'd urge my fellow Christians and other
American women to pay attention, especially if you have considered
wearing a headscarf in solidarity with American Muslim women.
In my opinion, the value of a non-Muslim American wearing a headscarf
goes beyond signaling solidarity with Muslim women who believe they are
obligated to do so. It signals our agreement as Americans with the First
Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees religious liberty and
provides the foundation for separating the roles of religion and
government. It signals that we do not confuse Islam with terrorism, or
approve of blaming all members of a religion because a few members of
that religion are murderous bigots. For Christians, it signals our own
awareness that we too have murderous bigots among us and don't want to
be judged with them simply because we are Christian.
The degree of hatred that political figures and many ordinary Americans
have expressed recently against normal, garden-variety Muslims is
terrible, and terrifying to those who recognize it for what it is. It's
the ugly counterexample that shows up any time normal Americans feel
threatened by outsiders. In the past, this fear has led to segregation
and hatred of indigenous Americans ("American Indians"), the descendants
of African slaves, and immigrants ranging from the Irish during the
potato famine, Italians and eastern Europeans (many of them Jews) in the
early 20th century, and Japanese Americans during the second World War.
This ignorance- and fear-generated bigotry is a threat not just to
Muslim women, and not just to all Muslims, but to the American
experiment. Through it we have alienated and driven from this country
people who would otherwise have made significant, valuable contributions
to our society and culture. One of those was W. E. B. DuBois, the first
African American graduate of Harvard University and one of America's
great authors and philosophers. DuBois ended his life as an exile in
Africa, having left the country of his birth and greatest achievements
in despair because so many Americans could not find it in their minds or
hearts to accept him as an equal -- a fellow citizen and human being.
You'd think we would learn from our mistakes. You'd think people would
see the same pattern when dealing with fellow Americans and immigrants
whose ancestors came from China, Japan, south Asia and the Middle East.
Some of us seem to lack that ability. :/
I don't urge all of my fellow non-Muslim American women to wear
headscarves in public. That might not be your role or how you express
your support for people under siege. But I do urge you to realize the
importance of speaking up and being counted.
--
Blog/Personal: http://www.ergosphere.net
Wearing a headscarf is not a particularly Muslim thing. There's a large Indian (Punjabi) community here. I often see Sikh women in traditional garb wearing a head veil.

Catholic nuns used to wear habits as conservative as anything a Muslim woman could wear except for a face covering.

I think in some cultures like Greeks and Portuguese that widows dress all in black and have their hair covered.

Amish women wear a bonnet.

There are alot of ignorant people. I frequent a mom & pop store owned by a Sikh couple. He's told me he's been called racial names. And he doesn't wear a turban and is clean shaven.

Several Sikh gurdwaras have been attacked because people think they are Muslims.

Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus are all a part of the greater American community. They deserve respect and understanding and toleration simply because they are fellow human beings!
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