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Musaafirah
03-25-2009, 09:04 PM
'Hello America, I'm a British Muslim'
When British businessman Imran Ahmed was made redundant in January, instead of hitting the Job Centre he decided to arrange a one-man speaking tour of the United States to spread his message of peace and Muslim moderateness.

"Do you think the American drone raids in Afghanistan, in which women and children are killed, are actually obstructing the movement for an Islamic reformation?"

"What can be done about the alienation of young Muslim men in the UK?"

"Did you learn English in England?"

I've had an interesting range of questions at my speaking events in the US, but thankfully there have been some laughs with the audience too.

But first things first: what am I doing with a rented hybrid car on a 12,000-mile, 40-city speaking tour of America?


I'd always been grateful that Britain, the land of my upbringing, had remained remarkably tolerant of Muslims despite the shock of the 7 July bombings and continuing provocation from some extremist elements. I think there's still a good general understanding in the UK that the actions of a few do not represent all Muslims.

But I wasn't sure the same could be said for the United States - a country where I'd lived for five years and for which I'd always had great affection.

There had been a dreadful incident on New Year's Day this year in which nine Muslims - all US citizens, including three young children - had been removed from a domestic flight because two of them had been overheard discussing where was the safest place to sit on an aeroplane.

The FBI had been called in, the "suspects" questioned and the airline had initially refused to rebook them even after they were released without charge.

My own experience of the US had been formed in the years immediately before 9/11, when I'd lived there. Religion and ethnicity had never been an issue. Contrast this with the years since the 2001 attacks, when, on each visit, I'd been detained for "secondary" questioning at immigration control… sometimes for hours.

I don't blame them for this, given the circumstances. But it still had made me sad.

'Mutual respect'

Then, in January, I'd been made redundant after many years as a programme manager in the UK. Given the current economic situation, it didn't feel like a good time to be job-hunting.

Then one evening, I was reclining in my sofa, watching President Obama's inauguration speech, and heard his mention of a new era of "mutual respect" between America and the Muslim world.

Suddenly the penny dropped. I thought: "I can do that."

My book, Unimagined - a Muslim Boy Meets the West, had been released in the US last autumn, and I'd received a few e-mails from readers suggesting I come and speak in their church should I ever find myself in America.

As a trustee of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, I am committed to a positive relationship between the Muslim and Western worlds. I became excited by the thought of a US speaking tour.

That evening, I sat down in my study, pulled out a map of the US, and began plotting a course starting in Chicago and working clockwise around the major population centres: the East Coast, the Carolinas, Florida, the Deep South, Texas, Kansas, Colorado, the deserts, up the entire West Coast, across the mid-West, and back to the Windy City.

I began contacting various organisations on the route, asking if I could speak at their venues. Within days, I'd had my first acceptances and the proposed plan quickly became a reality.

Of course, I'd had moments of doubt. Should I be doing this when I really needed to find a job?

But with President Obama's rhetoric in my sails, my goal, to re-humanise the relationship between America and the Muslim world; to counter the unthinking tribalism which results in polarisation, dehumanisation and demonisation, seemed too important.

Questioned by police

But then, on my day of departure, two things happened which caused me to think twice.



An Iranian-born film-maker had been interviewing me about the trip, in my car whilst I was driving. A few minutes after getting home, there had been a knock on the door. Two police officers were investigating a report of two Middle Eastern men suspiciously filming in the town centre.

They were extremely polite, even apologetic, and once I'd explained what was going on, they left without a fuss. I don't make any judgment here - it's right that people should be vigilant.

Then, upon my arrival at Chicago O'Hare airport, I wasn't detained for secondary screening. The immigration officer, a pretty Hispanic woman, looked at my passport ("Cute picture!"), stamped it and wished me well.

I was relieved and surprised.

Now, I'm eight dates into my tour. It is tiring, but the audiences are giving me the energy to keep going. They have been, without exception, warm and receptive. Even people I meet outside the events (generally hotel and restaurant staff) have been delighted to hear I am a writer from England on a speaking tour around America on the subject of relations with the Muslim world.

I have always wanted to drive around the US, but had imagined this would be something I would do nearing retirement - otherwise, how would I have the time? To be doing it now with purpose is even better.

And I can look for a new job when I get back.
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Uthman
03-26-2009, 08:12 AM
:sl:

This is cool.
Originally Posted by Musaafirah
As a trustee of British Muslims for Secular Democracy, I am committed to a positive relationship between the Muslim and Western worlds.
Shoud British Muslims be for Secular Democracy, though?

:w:
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girljedi
03-26-2009, 09:14 AM
I have a book. "Why I became Muslim?"Turkish religious foundations were removed.I still read.yesterday bought :D There are more English books.Very interesting :)

but here I think about other? sorry :(
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Foxhole
03-27-2009, 06:31 PM
Originally Posted by Osman
:sl:

This is cool. Shoud British Muslims be for Secular Democracy, though?

:w:
Since that's they system British Muslims choose to live under, I would hope so.
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Uthman
03-27-2009, 07:57 PM
Originally Posted by Foxhole
Since that's they system British Muslims choose to live under, I would hope so.
Not all the time. I was born in this country as a British Muslim, but I never actively chose to live under a secular democracy. Oh, and just in case you misunderstand me, I'm not somebody who advocates Sharia law for Britain (not that you implied that I was :) )

Anyway, it just seems strange to me that there are Muslims out there supporting secularism. On the face of it, Islam and secularism don't exactly go together, do they?
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transition?
03-27-2009, 10:21 PM
:sl:

All the names for Islam...

Every time I hear moderate Islam or Radical Islam. I cringe.
Islam is Islam.
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Dawud_uk
03-28-2009, 11:11 AM
Originally Posted by Osman
:sl:

This is cool. Shoud British Muslims be for Secular Democracy, though?

:w:
he is a kaffir, a muslim cannot be a secularist, Allah alone has the right to legislate and anyone who believes someone else has that right is a kaffir whether their name is abdullah or muhammad or fatima, it doesnt matter.
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Uthman
03-30-2009, 06:34 PM
Brother Hussain Yee is doing a talk entitled 'Islam and Secularism' tonight on Peace TV. :)
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Al-Zaara
03-30-2009, 07:10 PM
He probably prefers a secular democracy because he's from a country of Christian society?
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Woodrow
03-30-2009, 07:41 PM
Originally Posted by Osman
:sl:

This is cool. Shoud British Muslims be for Secular Democracy, though?

:w:
Good point.

What is meant by secular?

1sec·u·lar Listen to the pronunciation of 1secular
Pronunciation:
\ˈse-kyə-lər\
Function:
adjective
Etymology:
Middle English, from Anglo-French seculer, from Late Latin saecularis, from saeculum the present world, from Latin, generation, age, century, world; akin to Welsh hoedl lifetime
Date:
14th century

1 a: of or relating to the worldly or temporal <secular concerns> b: not overtly or specifically religious <secular music> c: not ecclesiastical or clerical <secular courts> <secular landowners>2: not bound by monastic vows or rules ; specifically : of, relating to, or forming clergy not belonging to a religious order or congregation <a secular priest>3 a: occurring once in an age or a century b: existing or continuing through ages or centuries c: of or relating to a long term of indefinite duration <secular inflation>

Secularism has 2 definitions.

Definition:

1. exclusion of religion from public affairs: the belief that religion and religious bodies should have no part in political or civic affairs or in running public institutions, especially schools

2. rejection of religion: the rejection of religion or its exclusion from a philosophical or moral system

The second definition is definitely against Islam.

Now the first definition should be looked at closely. If you live in a country that is not majority Muslim, stop and think of the result if there were to be a non-secular government. In the case of the UK it would be a religious government under the Anglican Church, possibly with the banning of Islam in the country. In France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, and a number of other countries a non-secular government would be Church rule under Catholicism and governed by the Pope.

If a country is not majority Muslim, a non-secular Government (Religious Government) will most likely ban Islam in the country.

At the time of the Inquisition, Spain was an anti-secular government. A non-secular Government may not be the best choice.

Yes, we need to be against secularism, but maybe in a country where Islam is a minority religion a secular-democracy government is the lesser of the evils.
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Al-Zaara
03-30-2009, 07:46 PM
^ Yep. That's what I meant aswell.
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Uthman
03-30-2009, 07:54 PM
:sl:

Interesting post! :)
Originally Posted by Woodrow
Yes, we need to be against secularism, but maybe in a country where Islam is a minority religion a secular-democracy government is the lesser of the evils.
Very good point and as we know, the lesser of two evils is an established principle in the Shari'ah.

Imaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) said, "The Shari'ah has been revealed to obtain all possible benefits and to prevent as much harm as possible and reduce it. Its aim is to produce the best possible scenario from two good options if both cannot be achieved together, and to ward off the worst of two evils if both evils cannot be prevented."

Thus, I agree that calling for Secular Democracy in this particular situation could even make sense from an Islamic point of view.

:w:
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Woodrow
03-30-2009, 08:33 PM
I think it needs to be pointed out that the UK is not a secular democracy. It is a non-secular constitutional monarchy governed to a large extent by the Church of England (Anglican Church) the Anglican church and the Monarchy are closely linked.

The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England,[8] the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion (except the Scottish Episcopal Church which has separate origins and is a Sister Church rather than a Daughter Church) and the oldest among the communion's thirty-eight independent national churches.

The Church of England considers itself to be both Catholic and reformed. It regards itself as in continuity with the pre-Reformation state Catholic church, but has been a distinct Anglican church since the settlement under Elizabeth I, with some disruption during the 17th-century Commonwealth period. The British Monarch is formally Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and its spiritual leader is the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is regarded by convention as the head of the worldwide communion of Anglican Churches, (the Anglican Communion). In practice the Church of England is governed by the General Synod, under the authority of Parliament.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religio...United_Kingdom

Perhaps Muslims supporting secular-Democracy really are fighting for the rights of Muslims and are opposing the restrictions brought about by the Anglican Church. Something to think about? Seems that if you live in the UK you have two choice, accept the current religious state or fight to abolish it by demanding a secular democracy.

Here in the US a long time back we fought that same battle with the Crown and won our right to religious freedom by establishing a secular democracy, rather then bow to the monarch.

Islam is now thriving here and it is peaceful growth with some areas becoming predominatly Muslim and able to begin implementing Islamic acceptable laws. ie: Dearborn, Michigan http://www.icofa.com/

I do not support some things about the icofa as I find them to be sectarian, however, they are an excellent example of Islamic growth in the USA and has come about partialy because the USA is a secular democracy and not a non-secular religious government like what is found in the UK.

Secular-democracy may be the lesser of two evils for the UK when it seems the alternative is the acceptance of a religious Monarchy.
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Dawud_uk
04-01-2009, 01:01 PM
:sl:

to call for secularism competely ignores the necessity of kufr bit taghoot, declaring kufr in the taghoot such as secularism amongst other things.

how can you claim kufr bit taghoot, whilst at the same time supporting secularism? it is a total contradiction to islam and the preconditions of imaan.

i understand where people are coming from by saying there is nothing wrong with chosing the lesser of two evils, but it ignores a serious pre-condition that has to be put in place before such a lesser evil is chosen.

this pre-condition is that all halal options are closed,

so i cannot go into a bar, sit around until i am so thirsty so now it becomes halal for me to have a drink of beer as i could have got up and left anytime.

simularly, a muslim cannot choose secularism in this circumstance as he could leave such a land or other halal options such as jihad are also open to him.

so i dont think the lesser of two evils is applicable as this is too serious a matter, there is no life threatening circumstance to necessitate a declaration of kufr akbar such as calling for secularism and even it was true that was an allowable case of lesser of two evils the halal alternatives have not been explored first.
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Woodrow
04-01-2009, 02:54 PM
Originally Posted by Dawud_uk
:sl:

to call for secularism competely ignores the necessity of kufr bit taghoot, declaring kufr in the taghoot such as secularism amongst other things.

how can you claim kufr bit taghoot, whilst at the same time supporting secularism? it is a total contradiction to islam and the preconditions of imaan.

i understand where people are coming from by saying there is nothing wrong with chosing the lesser of two evils, but it ignores a serious pre-condition that has to be put in place before such a lesser evil is chosen.

this pre-condition is that all halal options are closed,

so i cannot go into a bar, sit around until i am so thirsty so now it becomes halal for me to have a drink of beer as i could have got up and left anytime.

simularly, a muslim cannot choose secularism in this circumstance as he could leave such a land or other halal options such as jihad are also open to him.

so i dont think the lesser of two evils is applicable as this is too serious a matter, there is no life threatening circumstance to necessitate a declaration of kufr akbar such as calling for secularism and even it was true that was an allowable case of lesser of two evils the halal alternatives have not been explored first.
I believe the problem comes from understanding the difference between secularism and secular democracy. Secularism is absolutly forbidden by Islam. We can not live a secular life.

Now in terms of government, governments are either secular or non secular. A secular government is not under the control of a religion, a non secular government is under the control of a religion

Living in a non secular nation means you live under the control of the religion or church of the nation. Vatican City is a non secular nation. All of the laws are dictated by the Pope, you live as a Catholic and follow the church laws.

Israel is essentially a non secular nation. The laws of Israel are based upon Judaism and Zionism is a militant extremist form of Judaism.

Living in a non secular nation is not going to protect you from alcohol and bars. If the non secular nation is not Islamic. Pubs are popular in the UK not because they are secular, but because alcohol is not forbidden in the Anglican Church. It also is not forbidden in Catholicism or Judaism.

To live in a secular democracy forbids the government from imposing a national religion upon you. If you live in a non secular nation, you live under the religious laws of the government. In a secular democracy, the government can not impose the religious laws of the dominate religion upon you.

Secular government = no national religion to force a belief upon you

Non Secular government = Theocracy, Rule by the laws of a national religion.

In other words it probably would be haraam to live in a non-secular nation (theocracy) unless the nation was Islamic.

If you can not live in an Islamic Nation it seems the only option is to live in a secular democracy where you are not following the laws of a religion other than Islam. It may even be thought of as shirk to live in a theocracy if the religion of the nation is not Islam, as following the laws would be a worship of the religion.

Some of the most powerful Theocracies (Non secular governments) that ever existed were the Roman Empire, The Greek Empire, The Holy Roman Empire(Catholocism) and the Hindu dynasties. Under them debauchery, drunkenness, obscenities, etc thrived and those were not secular democracies, they were Theocracies. (Non secular)

Yes, secularism is haraam, but a secular democracy permits you to be non-secular, which is not always the case under a non-secular government.

Supporting a secular democracy does not call for support of secularism, it callsl for support of not letting a religion you do not believe to becoming the law you follow.

In the UK it seems the choices you have are to support a government that does not impose a religion upon you (secular democracy) or to support the laws of the Anglican Church (The Constitutional Monarchy)

Interesting quandary. Which is the lesser evil, by either action or inaction it seems in the UK you will be supporting one or the other.

True do not support secularism, but by avoiding a secular government be certain you are not supporting a religion other then Islam. (ie: at this point in time in the UK, Islam would be considered a secular form of government as it does not support the national Anglican religion)
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Uthman
04-01-2009, 05:11 PM
Good points raised by all, but I just want to point out that the UK is far from being any kind of Christian theocracy. The state and church are essentially separate and, although the country has a strong Christian heritage, it is basically secular in reality. Christianity is actually given a hard time in the British press and in addition, faith doesn't officially play any role in British politics.

I think the following recent article by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is probably most appropriate to convey the role of faith in British politics:

http://www.newstatesman.com/religion...lion-faith-god
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Woodrow
04-01-2009, 05:55 PM
Originally Posted by Osman
Good points raised by all, but I just want to point out that the UK is far from being any kind of Christian theocracy. The state and church are essentially separate and, although the country has a strong Christian heritage, it is basically secular in reality. Christianity is actually given a hard time in the British press and in addition, faith doesn't officially play any role in British politics.

I think the following recent article by the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is probably most appropriate to convey the role of faith in British politics:

http://www.newstatesman.com/religion...lion-faith-god
I guess some of us here in the States know very little about present day UK and think more of what we learned in history books. just know Great Britain in terms of 1776 and 1812. Some of us do have stereotypical views, me included and I have even been in the UK several times.
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Whatsthepoint
04-01-2009, 06:29 PM
Originally Posted by Woodrow
I believe the problem comes from understanding the difference between secularism and secular democracy. Secularism is absolutly forbidden by Islam. We can not live a secular life.

Now in terms of government, governments are either secular or non secular. A secular government is not under the control of a religion, a non secular government is under the control of a religion

Living in a non secular nation means you live under the control of the religion or church of the nation. Vatican City is a non secular nation. All of the laws are dictated by the Pope, you live as a Catholic and follow the church laws.

Israel is essentially a non secular nation. The laws of Israel are based upon Judaism and Zionism is a militant extremist form of Judaism.

Living in a non secular nation is not going to protect you from alcohol and bars. If the non secular nation is not Islamic. Pubs are popular in the UK not because they are secular, but because alcohol is not forbidden in the Anglican Church. It also is not forbidden in Catholicism or Judaism.

To live in a secular democracy forbids the government from imposing a national religion upon you. If you live in a non secular nation, you live under the religious laws of the government. In a secular democracy, the government can not impose the religious laws of the dominate religion upon you.

Secular government = no national religion to force a belief upon you

Non Secular government = Theocracy, Rule by the laws of a national religion.

In other words it probably would be haraam to live in a non-secular nation (theocracy) unless the nation was Islamic.

If you can not live in an Islamic Nation it seems the only option is to live in a secular democracy where you are not following the laws of a religion other than Islam. It may even be thought of as shirk to live in a theocracy if the religion of the nation is not Islam, as following the laws would be a worship of the religion.

Some of the most powerful Theocracies (Non secular governments) that ever existed were the Roman Empire, The Greek Empire, The Holy Roman Empire(Catholocism) and the Hindu dynasties. Under them debauchery, drunkenness, obscenities, etc thrived and those were not secular democracies, they were Theocracies. (Non secular)

Yes, secularism is haraam, but a secular democracy permits you to be non-secular, which is not always the case under a non-secular government.

Supporting a secular democracy does not call for support of secularism, it callsl for support of not letting a religion you do not believe to becoming the law you follow.

In the UK it seems the choices you have are to support a government that does not impose a religion upon you (secular democracy) or to support the laws of the Anglican Church (The Constitutional Monarchy)

Interesting quandary. Which is the lesser evil, by either action or inaction it seems in the UK you will be supporting one or the other.

True do not support secularism, but by avoiding a secular government be certain you are not supporting a religion other then Islam. (ie: at this point in time in the UK, Islam would be considered a secular form of government as it does not support the national Anglican religion)
There is a difference between theocracy and non secular government.
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Woodrow
04-01-2009, 06:41 PM
Originally Posted by Whatsthepoint
There is a difference between theocracy and non secular government.
True a theocracy is a non secular government, but a non secular government need not be a theocracy. But I can not think of any examples of genuine non secular governments that are not/were not a theocracy.
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AntiKarateKid
04-01-2009, 06:42 PM
Originally Posted by transition?
:sl:

All the names for Islam...

Every time I hear moderate Islam or Radical Islam. I cringe.
Islam is Islam.
Everyone needs to hear this.
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Amadeus85
04-01-2009, 06:48 PM
So it seems that those who fought with christianity under tha blanket of seperating church and state were really enemies of strong and christian Europe. And if we agree that Europe was influenced overwhemngly by christianity, and Europe cant exist without christianity, we can say that people like Wolter, Robespierre, Lenin, Zapatero were decadentist enemies of our continent.
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Woodrow
04-01-2009, 08:01 PM
Originally Posted by Amadeus85
So it seems that those who fought with christianity under tha blanket of seperating church and state were really enemies of strong and christian Europe. And if we agree that Europe was influenced overwhemngly by christianity, and Europe cant exist without christianity, we can say that people like Wolter, Robespierre, Lenin, Zapatero were decadentist enemies of our continent.
Depends on which side of the street you stand, a communist, Atheist, etc could just as validly say Christianity was the enemy of people like Wolter, Robespierre, Lenin, and Zapatero

Secularism is an enemy of most if not all religions, but a secular state is one of the few types of government that allow for freedom of choice in religion. Which may be a good thing if you do not agree to the dominate religion.
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Dawud_uk
04-02-2009, 05:55 AM
:sl: all and woodrow especially,

abasiniyya by your definition would have not been secular, but it allowed muslims to practice their faith.

saddams iraq had laws based upon some parts of islam, but i dont think any muslim would argue his country wasnt secular.

therefore i think we have a problem here with the use of secular terminology confusing our arguments.

instead of using the term secular we should instead say, there are nations of which we can have convenant of security as they allow the practice of all the fard duties and the avoidance of the haram.

and there are those nations which we cannot.

as such although britain by your definition is not secular, it did however until recently fulfil the criteria of a nation which we muslims could live in a position of being under the covenant of security. probably the same position with america as well, used to be allowed to live there and now not.

but if a nation is bad we dont call for kufr to change it, in islam if the situation changes and we are not able to change that place then we leave and go live where we can practice our deen, there is no excuse for calling for matters of kufr as the lesser of the two evils in such a circumstance.

:sl:
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Woodrow
04-02-2009, 06:47 AM
Originally Posted by Dawud_uk
:sl: all and woodrow especially,

abasiniyya by your definition would have not been secular, but it allowed muslims to practice their faith.

saddams iraq had laws based upon some parts of islam, but i dont think any muslim would argue his country wasnt secular.

therefore i think we have a problem here with the use of secular terminology confusing our arguments.

instead of using the term secular we should instead say, there are nations of which we can have convenant of security as they allow the practice of all the fard duties and the avoidance of the haram.

and there are those nations which we cannot.

as such although britain by your definition is not secular, it did however until recently fulfil the criteria of a nation which we muslims could live in a position of being under the covenant of security. probably the same position with america as well, used to be allowed to live there and now not.

but if a nation is bad we dont call for kufr to change it, in islam if the situation changes and we are not able to change that place then we leave and go live where we can practice our deen, there is no excuse for calling for matters of kufr as the lesser of the two evils in such a circumstance.

:sl:
Worded like that I have no problem agreeing with you.

We were defining things on different concepts.

I believe you said it best in this paragraph.

instead of using the term secular we should instead say, there are nations of which we can have convenant of security as they allow the practice of all the fard duties and the avoidance of the haram.
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