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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 22 Apr 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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What Can These Women suicide bombers Be Thinking?

12-year-old bride’s divorce churns Muslim world

Islam and Muslim women’s social roles

JEDDAH: Women prisoners to be rehabilitated

Breasts don't cause earthquakes

Saudi women don’t need any rescuer

Saudi religious cop denies firing for liberal views on women

Pakistani Muslim woman fears being disfigured with acid

Quebec's Bill 94 proposes a ban on the niqab

Arab News: A staunch supporter of women’s rights

No, Indian girls won't be used as guinea pigs: Azad

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Muslim Women

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/what-can-these-women-suicide-bombers-be-thinking?/d/2748

 

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                     What Can These Women suicide bombers Be Thinking?            

    By Laina Farhat-Holzman  

 

Since 1985, more than 250 women, Tamil, Chechen, Indian, and Muslim, have become suicide bombers.

An unsettling new trend is emerging:  conversion of Western women to Islam and their recruitment into Islam's most murderous cults. How can such a misogynistic movement seduce women?

Recently two American women were picked up on terror charges:  one the petite blonde known as "Jihad Jane" and the other, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez. What's even worse is that there are more in the pipeline.

Colleen LaRose, whose Internet name is "Jihad Jane," converted to Islam and acted as a screener and recruiter for assassins to murder a Swedish cartoonist who "offended Islam." She was trying to find others like herself-preferably women who would not easily be identified as Muslim-to carry out such missions.  Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, a 31-year-old American (a blonde like LaRose), was arrested in Ireland for conspiring to murder the same cartoonist. What might these women have in common?

Such women are troubled, not well educated (often school dropouts), and would be called losers in our society-but get attention and the illusion of affection from Islamic radicals. The militants need such women, and will do anything to recruit them. LaRose was so secretive about her activities that even her last live-in boyfriend (she was married and divorced several times) was unaware of what she was doing. She also had a history of alcohol abuse, and her former boyfriend noted that she was not very bright.

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, according to her distraught mother, was also married three times-as a teenager, then to an illegal Mexican immigrant who fathered her child and was caught and deported, and now to an Algerian Muslim she met on line. She has taken her six-year-old child with her to Ireland, and her mother says that the child is being radicalized to hate Christians and to become a "good Muslim."

Most American or European women who convert to Islam do so out of love and marriage to a Muslim. They generally have little idea of what their lives would be in their husband's homeland. Even if they did, however, they delude themselves that their case would be different-and that loving husband would never let them (or their children) be so abused.

Sometimes even education does not matter. Easier to identify and harder to explain are such women as a Pakistani immigrant, Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT and Brandeis-educated scientist who lived for years in Boston, but returned to Pakistan. There she became a killer of Americans in Afghanistan (convicted in a NY court). 

Two Chechen women served as suicide bombers (March 30) in the Moscow subways at rush hour. This is looking your victims in the eye before murdering them. One of these was a baby-faced 17-year-old who had been kidnapped at 16 and married to her terrorist kidnapper. When he was killed, the militants gave her the choice of becoming a suicide bomber. Some choice.

These women are oblivious (or know too well) how militant Islam regards them when they are no longer useful to the movement. The latest cynical example, cited by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Joel Brinkley, is Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, who banned celebrating children's birthdays. How convenient not to know how old a child is before forcing her into marriage. And how loving are parents who marry off little girls? Last year, a Saudi judge refused to grant an 8-year-old a divorce, just ordering the husband not to have sex with her (again) until she reached puberty. How can a Western woman convert live with that?

In Iran, by Islamic law, girls can be married off as young as 9 and boys at 14. But Iranian human-rights activists have succeeded in getting the law changed to 13 and 15 (small change). But who is enforcing even this law?

As long as women are willing to be "useful idiots" for Militant Islam, they will continue to be recruited, seduced, and (if they are from traditional Muslim families) blackmailed into being cannon fodder for this wretched movement.

Laina  Farhat-Holzman is a writer, lecturer, and historian.

http://www.rightsidenews.com/201004229697/global-terrorism/what-can-these-women-be-thinking.html

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12-year-old bride’s divorce churns Muslim world

Apr 22, 2010

Dubai : In what could become a prelude to introduction of a minimum age for marriage in Saudi Arabia, a 12-year-old girl has won a divorce from her 80-year-old husband.

According to local reports, the girl was married to her father’s cousin last year against her wishes and those of her mother. The marriage was sealed with a dowry of 85,000 riyals and consummated.

The 12-year-old, with the help of Saudi Government legal assistance, fought her case in a court in Buraidah, near Riyadh.

The unusual legal challenge had generated international media attention and scrutiny of Saudi Arabia’s record of child marriages, and prompted the state-run Human Rights Commission to appoint a lawyer to represent her.

Based on the ruling, the commission has assembled three committees to examine the possibility of pushing for a legal minimum age for marriage of at least 16.

“The main aim is to not allow cases like this to happen again,” The Times Online quoted Alanoud alHejailan, a lawyer for the commission, as saying.

“There will be some opposition, of course, but we feel that public opinion has changed on this issue. We want to gather all the public support we can for a minimum age for marriage,” he added.

The case had sparked debate in Saudi Arabia, with some judges and clerics using Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to a nine-year-old girl as justification of child marriage.

However, in January Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie, a senior Saudi cleric, spoke out in defence of the girl, declaring that the Prophet’s marriage 14 centuries ago could not be used to justify child marriages today.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/12yearold-brides-divorce-churns-muslim-world/609868/

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Islam and Muslim women’s social roles

20 April 2010

By Maulana Waris Mazhari

The issue of Muslim women’s freedom is a much-debated subject today. The traditional ulema and the modern educated Muslim intelligentsia appear to be completely at loggerheads on the issue. The former insist that women must be controlled as much as possible in order to protect Muslim society from immorality and sexual licentiousness, and that they must remain confined to their homes. They believe that women must play no social roles outside the domestic sphere whatsoever. If women are permitted to do so, they argue, it would open to floodgates of chaos and lead to a breakdown of society. On the other hand, the modern-educated Muslim intelligentsia is in favour of expanding women’s roles outside the narrow domestic sphere, and many of them go so far as to consider the hijab or modest dress for women as a symbol of oppression.

The female personality, it must be admitted, is extremely sensitive. On women the character of a society depends as much as it does on men. It must also be admitted that the attitude of Muslim religious circles towards women and women’s issues is influenced less by Islam and shariah norms than by other factors, among these being a marked reaction to the perceived widespread immorality in the West as a result of the free intermingling of sexes in Western societies. While in the West women have made important gains in several respects, it cannot be denied that in the name of women’s liberation and freedom they have been turned into sexual beings and commodities. This unfortunate phenomenon has led to a reaction among the ulema, leading them to insist on the control of women and on confining them to the domestic sphere as a defence mechanism for fear of Muslim society also falling prey to the same social ills that today plague the West. This stance may have had some temporary benefits, but it has caused a tragic loss to the Muslim community by denying half its population—Muslim women—the opportunity to develop and put to proper use their talents, skills and capacities.

It is not just the traditional ulema who, because of their excessively defensive and cautious approach to women’s social roles, have caused such damage to Muslim women and to the wider Muslim society. Even the supposedly ‘enlightened’ and more ‘modern’ Islamist scholar, Maulana Syed Abul ‘Ala Maududi shared similar views. In fact, in his widely-red book Purdah Maududi comes across as even more stern and extreme in his opposition to women’s freedom than the traditional ulema. For instance, the putative founders of the four major schools of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence and their followers all allowed for Muslim women to keep their faces unveiled, while Maududi stiffly opposed this, along with several modern ulema, claiming that a woman’s face was the centre of her beauty and, hence, a principal source of fitna or strife. It is striking to note that the classical ulema did not consider this argument as worthy of attention. However, going against their opinion, the influential twentieth century Deobandi scholar Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi even went to the extent of insisting that a woman’s name must never be mentioned in a newspaper. An ideal woman, according to him, is one who hides in her own home and is so unknown outside that her neighbours are not even aware of her existence. He allowed for girls to acquire only basic literacy skills but not to advance beyond that. Thanwi’s contemporary and virulent opponent, Ahmad Raza Khan, the leading figure of the Barelvi sect, was even more dismissive of women, going so far as to demean them. So opposed to women’s rights were some of these ulema of relatively recent times, who are still immensely popular among their followers today, that they upheld and propagated a completely baseless and utterly laughable theory that women’s voices were also to be ‘veiled’. It can be confidently said that their approach towards women and their rights and roles was in marked contrast to that of the early ulema, who were clearly more accommodative and accepting of women and their social roles.

How this strong misogynist streak and extreme defensiveness and sensitivity with regard to women emerge among the ulema is a subject that requires close and detailed historical scrutiny. The origins of this lie far back in history, in the medieval period, when, in the wake of the Tatar invasions and devastation of Muslim lands, chaos reigned supreme. It was perhaps but natural that a marked defensiveness and insularity emerged at this time in order to consolidate Muslim society that had suffered such widespread destruction and bloodshed. This was reflected in increasing restrictions on women, which were absent in the early Islamic period, including at the time of the Prophet. It was at this time that questions such as the permissibility or otherwise of women learning to read were hotly-debated. The renowned medieval Hanafi scholar Mulla Ali Qari went so far as to issue a fatwa declaring it impermissible for women to learn to write, and even wrote an entire book on the subject to justify his point, although there had been notable literate women in the early Islamic period, many of who were, in fact, the teachers of renowned male ulema. For over six hundred years the ulema continued to inconclusively debate whether women were permitted to read and write, and it was only in the late nineteenth century that a fatwa was issued, by the noted Indian scholar Maulana Abdul Haye Firanghi Mahali, abrogating the fatwa of Mulla Ali Qari.

Islam, it must be stressed, does not support the sort of emancipation of women as is current in the West, but nor does it stand for the sort of extreme restrictions on women, tantamount to imprisonment, that many traditionalist Islamic scholars advocate. The Islamic position is somewhat in between these two extremes. It stands for freedom of women at the social level within certain limits and with certain conditions. If the issue is looked at from the perspective of the Quran and the practice of the Prophet and the early Muslims, it would be evident that Islam does not place any restriction on the physical movement of women. It also outlines women’s social roles in considerable detail, roles that early Muslim played, not being bound within the four walls of their homes. A good illustration of this is the appointment of a woman, Shifa Bint Abdullah al-‘Adawiya, by Umar, the second Caliph of the Sunnis, as the superintendent of the market of Medina, the then capital of the Islamic Caliphate. Today’s traditional ulema might regard the marketplace as the most potent site of fitna or chaos, but yet this woman was appointed to oversee Medina’s commercial hub. At the time of the Prophet, women were free to pray in mosques and even offered their services on the battlefield. They would listen to the sermons of the Prophet in the presence of men, without any restriction, and would ask the Prophet questions. Umm-e Haram, a woman companion of the Prophet, requested him to pray for her so that she might be able to participate in jihad in the path of God. During the Caliphate of Uthman, the third Sunni Caliph, she sailed to Cyprus, where she participated in a battle. Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, father-in-law of the Prophet and the first Sunni Caliph, helped her husband Zubayr Bin al-Awa‘am in his work outside their home, and would even massage his horses and travel a long distance to get grains for them to eat, which she would carry on her head. The case of the Caliph Umar being corrected by a woman while delivering a sermon and making him admit his error is well-known.

From these instances, it is clear that in this period of Muslim history women’s minds and voices were not ‘veiled’. Nor was there any discussion of keeping men and women rigidly separate from each other. The books of Hadith are replete with narrations that clearly indicate that at this time men and women saw each other’s faces, spoke to each other, engaged in transactions with each other and assisted each other in different activities. The wives of the Prophet, known as the ‘mothers of the believers’ (ummhat al-mu‘minin), were specially required, as the Quran indicates, to observe purdah, but this did not stop male companions of the Prophet from appearing before them and learning from them. The youngest of the Prophet’s wives, Ayesha, had many male disciples, to whom she related numerous narrations of and about the Prophet.

Besides these examples from early Muslim history, one can cite references in the Quran to prove the point that certain forms of interaction between men and women is indeed permissible in Islam, in contrast to what many traditionalist ulema might argue, Thus, for instance, the Quran talks about the meeting between the prophet Solomon and Bilqis, Queen of Sheba and their conversation; the meeting between Zachariah and Mary, mother of Jesus; and the meeting and discussion between the daughter of Shoeb and Moses and of the former taking the help of the latter to provide water to her animals. Since the Quran exhorts Muslims to emulate the practice of the previous prophets, it is obvious that these forms of interaction between men and women are also permitted to Muslims.

The Quran states: ‘The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil’ (9:71). The Quran considers it the responsibility of both men and women to perform various social roles, the performance of which is not possible without their common participation and mutual assistance. Given this, the extreme hesitation or reluctance of some Islamic scholars to allow Muslim women to play these legitimate roles has, to a large extent, to do with local cultural mores rather than with the teachings of Islam or the practice of the Prophet and the early Muslims.

It is a fact that misogyny has been in existence for centuries, and traces of it remained in societies that later became Muslim even after accepting Islam. At the same time, it is also undeniable that, for the first time, Islam sought to provide women with their legitimate rights, and to provide them an elevated status in society. The Prophet and his companions strove to combat deep-rooted prejudices against women, not just on the ideological plane but also in practical terms. However, after the early Islamic period, when Muslim society entered a phase of decline, women’s status suffered a major set-back. Just as Islamic justice demanded that slavery be abolished but, yet, slavery still remained, so, too, while Islam sought to emancipate women, anti-women prejudice could not be fully rooted out from Muslim society. To buttress this prejudice, many narrations were concocted and were falsely attributed to the Prophet and to his companions that projected women in an extremely derogatory fashion. One such false narration, which, lamentably, is still often quoted in traditionalist ulema circles, exhorts: ‘Take the advice of women but do the precise opposite of what they advise.’ Another such tradition declares: ‘To obey a woman is a matter of shame.’ A third such fabricated narration declares: ‘Men were destroyed when they obeyed women’. Yet another such concocted narration claims: ‘If women did not exist, the right of God to be worshipped would have been performed in a better way.’ Likewise, the following statement was falsely attributed to the Imam Ali: ‘Woman is wholly bad.’

In this light of all this, it is incumbent on Islamic scholars to review their position on and understanding of women and critique and challenge the deep-rooted misogyny that is, unfortunately and wrongly, seen as inseparable from Islam. It is imperative that our traditionalist scholars no longer stand in the way of Muslim women being able to access the rights granted to them by Islam, and which they enjoyed at the time of the Prophet.

(Maulana Waris Mazhari is the editor of the New Delhi-based monthly Tarjuman Dar ul-Uloom, the official organ of the Graduates’ Association of the Deoband madrasa.

http://twocircles.net/2010apr20/islam_and_muslim_women_s_social_roles.html

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Jeddah: Women prisoners to be rehabilitated

By GALAL FAKKAR

Apr 23, 2010

JEDDAH: Shaqaik Charitable Society in Jeddah launched a program to rehabilitate women prisoners before their release, especially those who have almost completed their jail terms.

Abdullah Al-Othaim, chairman of the society’s board of directors, said the program would include 50 women prisoners in the first stage, adding that they would get training for various jobs.

“The program also aims at injecting confidence in their minds in order to face society and remove negative feelings and life pressures,” he said. “During the program they will be trained in making accessories, cooking, packing gifts and using computers,” Al-Othaim said.

He emphasized that society should not abandon such people and should give them support so they can become productive citizens.

He thanked the National Industrialization Company (NIC) for sponsoring the program as part of its social responsibility.

Wael bin Nizar Al-Oqail, head of the social responsibility program at NIC, stressed the need for giving this group of society adequate care.

Shaqaik is a women’s charitable association in the Kingdom that carries out innovative programs of social welfare. It trains and prepares young women for marriage.

It has established a club to develop the skills and capabilities of women and has appointed counselors to solve women’s problems. It has also started a program to assist divorced women.

“We have a lot of programs for increasing jobs for women,” said a source close to the society, adding that these programs were carried out in cooperation with national companies.

Shaqaik also implements various programs with expert support for women’s development.

http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article46255.ece

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Breasts don't cause earthquakes

23 APRIL 2010

A ONE-WOMAN mission to prove breasts don't cause earthquakes has swollen into a shirt-straining global movement preparing for the inaugural "Boobquake".

Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi angered womens' groups around the world on Monday when he claimed that promiscuous women were responsible for literally making the earth move.

"Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,'' Sedighi said.

"What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble?'' he asked during a prayer sermon on Friday.

"There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes.''

Women in the Islamic Republic are required by law to cover from head to toe, but Sedighi says an increase in young women flaunting the law - and not the fact that Tehran straddles scores of fault lines - is risking the lives of the city's 12 million inhabitants.

Jennifer McCreight is determined to prove him wrong.

Full report at: http://www.news.com.au/technology/boobquake-determined-to-prove-cleric-wrong/story-e6frfro0-1225856787031

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Saudi women don’t need any rescuer

By Sabria S. Jawhar

23 APRIL 2010

Like all Saudi women I appreciate the efforts by American and European human rights organizations to protect us from bad Saudi men and to help grant us the freedom we deserve. Without the help of Americans and Europeans my life would have no future.

Okay, I’m lying.

If Western do-gooders minded their own business I’d be a pretty happy girl.

The same goes for the Kuwaiti media. Kuwaiti journalists apparently have ripped a page from the Western “Save the Oppressed Saudi Woman” handbook and now want to rescue us poor little lambs from the wolves. In this case, Kuwaiti newspapers and websites are criticizing the male organizers of the Janadriya Festival for “exploiting” Saudi women and engaging in “unethical behavior.” Uff! It looks as if female Janadriya Festival workers just fell off the camel in Riyadh following a long journey from Sakakah.

The only women who are exploited are women who want to be exploited. And I’m pretty darn sure that the Riyadh ladies and desert village girls can take care of themselves. They probably have a few suggestions for journalists offering to save them.

Full report at: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentID=2010042370237

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Saudi religious cop denies firing for liberal views on women

23 APRIL 2010

RIYADH — A senior member of the Saudi religious police repeated on Wednesday his support for Muslim men and women mixing, and denied that his stance against strict separation rules had got him fired.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamdi, the cleric who heads the Mecca branch of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, told Al-Arabiya television a widely circulated news report that he had been sacked by the head of the organisation over his views was not true.

"I am still carrying out my duties in my office. I have not received any formal decision about being fired," he told the broadcaster.

He also said he believed there is no strong evidence that Islam outlaws mixing between unrelated men and women, as long as women are veiled, Al-Arabiya reported.

Rumours that Ghamdi would be dismissed from the commission, variously known as the muttawa and the religious police, have circulated ever since he said in a December interview that he supported allowing men and women in to mix.

Full report at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iHwphzIXaCyW4YnD68Cv7bEghcBQ

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Pakistani Muslim woman fears being disfigured with acid

By TOM GODFREY

APRIL 23, 2010

A Muslim woman fighting to stay in Canada fears being disfigured with acid for allegedly “bringing shame” to her ex-husband’s family in Pakistan by leaving him and travelling here to work in a hair salon frequented by men.

Roohi Tabassum, 45, of Brampton, said corrosive acid is thrown in the faces of women in Pakistan and other Islamic countries to disfigure them because they have allegedly “shamed” their families.

Tabassum said there have been two incidents the past month in Pakistan where women’s faces were burned with acid by assailants who fled.

“I don’t leave the house or go anywhere because I am scared,” she said. “Sometimes the women are also disabled, burned or tortured.”

Tabassum claims family members in Pakistan are still receiving threats from ex-husband, Faisal Javed, who has threatened to kill her.

Full report at: http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2010/04/22/13684156.html

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Quebec's Bill 94 proposes a ban on the niqab

Hoda Faleh,

April 23, 2010

Quebec's Bill 94 proposes a ban on the niqab for public employees and anyone in need of services from the government or government-funded institutions in Quebec. Is this a reasonable government policy? As a Muslim woman who wears the hijab, I believe the Quebec government is within its rights to legislate this requirement.

Knowing full well that nowhere in the Koran does it state that women are required to cover their faces, the Quebec government is not trampling on anyone's religious beliefs. I risk the label of becoming a self-hating Muslim but I point out that the full face veil is a cultural thing, which is why I refuse to call it the "full Islamic veil." There's nothing Islamic about it, so Muslims need to refrain from using the religion excuse.

Second, the number of women who wear the full face veil is so minor that it is blatantly obvious that it's not religiously mandated.

Full report at: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/Quebec+trampling+beliefs/2941088/story.html

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Arab News: A staunch supporter of women’s rights

By SAMAR FATANY

Apr 22, 2010

Today Saudi women celebrate the 35th anniversary of Arab News and extend their appreciation to all Arab News reporters, editors and management for supporting the empowerment of women in Saudi society under the leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.

Arab News has encouraged the participation of women in our nation’s progress and development and has been a great force influencing change, paving the way for activists and civil society to revise women’s marginalized status.

The newspaper has taken advantage of the expanded freedom of the press to address the discrimination against working women in the public and private sectors and has been mounting pressure on the government to implement reforms that would empower women in our society. Prolific writers consistently voice their concerns and strive to expose social norms that deny women justice and bar their progress.

Full report at: http://arabnews.com/35thanniversarysupplement/article45261.ece

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No, Indian girls won't be used as guinea pigs: Azad

Sujay Mehdudia

23 APRIL 2010

NEW DELHI: Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad Thursday said the use of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines imported by pharmaceutical companies Merck and Cervarix was stopped, and rejected the charge that Indian girls were being used as guinea pigs for the trial of the anti-cervical cancer vaccines.

The decision to stop the use of vaccines followed apprehensions that deaths in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat could have been caused by them, he said replying to a call attention motion moved by Brinda Karat of the CPI(M) in the Rajya Sabha.

“Though prima facie there does not appear to be any connection between the deaths and the vaccination, in order to allay apprehensions the States have been advised not to carry out any further vaccination till further orders.”

Widely used

Rejecting the charge that guidelines were violated, the Minister said the vaccines were being used in more than 100 countries; the U.S. and the U.K. even included them in their national immunisation programmes.

Full report at: http://www.hindu.com/2010/04/23/stories/2010042360841200.htm

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/what-can-these-women-suicide-bombers-be-thinking?/d/2748


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