Today in Islamophobia

A daily list of headlines about Islamophobia
compiled by the Bridge Initiative

Each day, the Bridge Initiative aims to bring you the news you need to know about Islamophobia. This resource will be updated every weekday at approximately 11:00 AM EST.

Today in Islamophobia Newsletter

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22 Jun 2020

Today in Islamophobia: Katie Hopkins– the far-right commentator– is permanently suspended from Twitter. An article by Boris Johnson on the Srebenica genocide resurfaces, in which Johnson says “Muslims were not exactly angels.” In Miami, a Muslim woman arrested for taking part in the protests is forced to remove her hijab for photos. Our recommended read today is by CJ Werleman on India’s fact-finding report in the aftermath of the Delhi pogroms. The report, CJ argues, whitewashes anti-Muslim violence. This, and more, below:


22 Jun 2020

Absurd fact-finding report on Delhi riots whitewashes anti-Muslim violence | Recommended Read

What happened in New Delhi across six bloody days in late February was unmistakably an anti-Muslim pogrom. The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is desperately trying to blame Muslims for their own deaths, injuries and damages, a move that not only further erodes India’s proclaimed secular democratic character, but also creates a culture of impunity in which radicalised Hindu nationalists will feel they have a green light to attack Muslims without fear of punishment. The international community has watched on in horror as Muslims have been falsely accused in mainstream discourse for deliberately spreading the Covid-19 virus. It should now be doubly concerned that Home Minister Amit Shah has accepted a “fact-finding” report on the Delhi riots by the Delhi based non-governmental-organisation (NGO) Call for Justice, a report that has been slammed for reproducing already debunked misinformation, sourcing dubious web based information, and presenting a misleading sequence of events. Worse – it essentially blames Muslims for their own deaths, holding them almost exclusively responsible for the pogrom, despite the fact the attacks were coordinated against them by radicalised Hindu-nationalist individuals and groups, and with the support of police in many instances. The report even cited a debunked online conspiracy that falsely accused Muslims of having “prior knowledge” of the violence by claiming Muslims had pulled their children out of school earlier than usual. The report also blames women’s rights advocates and human rights activists, accusing them of “brain washing, programming and wiring (sic)” communities for violence. It also suggests mosques and imams played a role in agitating protesters, and it calls for a government crackdown on Internet usage and availability. read the complete article

Recommended Read
22 Jun 2020

Why Rohingya Refugees Are an Easy Target for the Fake News Factory

With an estimated population of around 40,000 stateless Rohingya refugees living in India after fleeing from Myanmar in 2017, the fake news cycle targeting the community has refused to die down. Inflammatory posts coupled with disinformation have led to widespread anger against the community. We have been able to identify three broad categories of misinformation and fake news that have been targeting the Rohingya refugee community: 1) Messages aimed at fanning communal sentiments, 2) Child-lifting rumours, and 3) Accusations of theft, murder, robbery, cow slaughter etc. To understand what makes the Rohingya community vulnerable to targeted misinformation on social media platforms we reached out to Nandini Sundar, professor of sociology at the Delhi School of Economics (DSE) and Ritvvij Parrikh, ICFJ Knight Fellow and the co-founder of Delhi-based media development startup PROTO. Parrikh told us that when individuals strongly identify with an ideology, they are highly susceptible to misinformation on topics impacted by that ideology. Building on the argument provided by Ritvvij, the plausible reason behind people falling prey to rumours around Rohingya refugees without any critical reasoning could be because of a pre-existing bias around the community. According to Nandini Sundar, who has worked extensively in the areas of citizenship and politics in South Asia, “the main reason behind the disinformation campaign against the Rohingyas is because they are Muslims.” “Muslims are increasingly becoming victims of fake news and disinformation in India. The fact that they come through Bangladesh and very few people know of the history of Myanmar and how the Rohingyas were attacked adds to the problem.” -Nandini Sundar, Professor of Sociology at Delhi University read the complete article


22 Jun 2020

Man jailed over anti-Muslim social media posts, threat to kill Jacinda Ardern

A man arrested in Newcastle for posting online threats to attack a mosque and kill the New Zealand Prime Minister has been jailed for 10 months. Cormac Patrick Rothsey pleaded guilty in Newcastle District Court to charges of posting the extremist threats on social media in September last year. The court on Friday heard the posts included statements that he wanted Muslims dead and that Muslims did not belong in Australia. One featured an image of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and suggested "she should be put down like an animal". 16) Muslim woman arrested in Miami protest forced to remove hijab for booking photo (United States) A Muslim woman arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest in Miami was forced to remove her hijab for a booking photo, which a Muslim civil rights advocate called a “severe violation of religious freedoms.” It also prompted supporters to start an online petition demanding justice for Alaa Massri, 18, one of seven people arrested June 10 during a peaceful protest against racial injustice. Massri did not immediately return a request for comment Friday, but a petition said the college student was aiding injured protesters before her arrest. The petition had received more than 45,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon. Massri was arrested on suspicion of battery against a police officer, resisting an officer with violence, and disorderly conduct, according to her arrest report. At the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Miami, her booking photo was taken without her hijab, which was not returned to her for the seven hours she was held there, according to the petition. Omar Saleh, an attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy group, said that removing religious head coverings during booking procedures — whether a hijab, yumalke, or turban — is a “severe violation of religious freedoms.” read the complete article

United Kingdom

22 Jun 2020

Boris Johnson slammed for saying Muslims ‘weren’t exactly angels’ in unearthed article

The Prime Minister has been slammed for an article he wrote more than 20 years ago about the Srebrenica genocide. Boris Johnson wrote in the Daily Telegraph in 1997: ‘All right, I say, the fate of the Srebrenica was appalling. But they weren’t exactly angels, these Muslims.’ The comment was penned as part of a response to Nicaraguan actress and human rights activist Bianca Jagger, who wrote an essay accusing Western countries of collaborating in Bosnian Serb atrocities against Muslims. He also said: ‘Sometimes there are causes where there is no room for cynicism, and where frankly it is immaterial how much she is driven by moral outrage and how much by the desire to burnish her halo. Mr. Johnson later added: ‘But what could the West really have done? Fought hand to hand with the glass-eating hordes of Serbia? This wasn’t our war, I suggest. Like all Bosnia hawks she believes it could have been done from the air.’ The Srebrenica genocide saw the mass killings of more than 8,000 Bosniaks – the majority of whom were Muslim by religion – in a town in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 1995 during the Bosnian War. read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

Katie Hopkins permanently suspended from Twitter

Controversial commentator Katie Hopkins has been permanently suspended from Twitter for violating its hateful conduct policy, the social media giant said. Ms Hopkins, who had more than one million followers, was previously suspended in January for a week. But Twitter said her latest ban is permanent. The social network did not, however, say which tweets Ms Hopkins had posted, to result in the ban. read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

Conservative activist suspended after telling Labour MP to 'go back to Pakistan'

The Conservatives have suspended an activist after she tweeted that a Muslim MP born in Bradford should “go back to Pakistan”. The party said Theodora Dickinson was being investigated on Friday after targeting Labour shadow minister Naz Shah. Dickinson responded to a post showing the Bradford West MP discussing her experience of poverty, saying that if “Naz Shah hates this country so much why doesn’t she go back to Pakistan?!” The Muslim Council of Britain, which has long criticised the Tories’ handling of Islamophobia, described the tweet as “blatant racism”. read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

The Iconoclast unmasked: the man behind far-right YouTube channel

He is the anonymous architect behind one of the most successful and toxic British far-right YouTube channels, responsible for disseminating racist, Islamophobic and antisemitic material. For years the individual known as The Iconoclast has managed to protect his identity despite amassing nearly 21m views and more than 218,000 subscribers. However the Observer can reveal that the figure behind one of the biggest far-right content producers in the UK – and the movement’s most prominent anonymous account – is a former media student called Daniel Atkinson. Campaigners said the unmasking of Atkinson was important because he is emblematic of the latest manifestation of the far right. Not only had Atkinson’s YouTube channel and magazine steadily attracted an international audience over the years but it also provided a platform for a number of high-profile and extreme figures on the global far right. Among these are US writer Brittany Pettibone, who views immigration as “white genocide” and in 2018 was banned from entering Britain. Another is antisemitic white supremacist Colin Robertson – aka Millennial Woes – who has described himself as “pro-slavery” and demanded the torpedoing of refugee boats. On Friday night anti-fascist groups celebrated the removal of one of the most divisive channels on YouTube. Gregory Davis, researcher at anti-extremism pressure group Hope Not Hate said: “The Iconoclast is the perfect example of the threat posed by the modern far-right. It operated online and anonymously and outside of any formal far-right organisation but managing to reach huge numbers of people around the world.” Extreme even by the standards of most far-right YouTubers, Atkinson actively promoted the idea of “voluntary repatriation” for the UK’s minority ethnic population. In a video uploaded to YouTube in April, he showed clips of an interview with Enoch Powell talking about measures that could encourage voluntary repatriation. Atkinson agreed, saying they would “create an atmosphere that may make leaving Britain seem a more attractive option”. Such views are similar to those expressed by Generation Identity, a far-right racial separatist group that Atkinson has promoted on his channel and whose ideology is said by some to have inspired the mass shooter in the Christchurch mosque attack, which killed 51 people in March 2019. read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

Muslim males have 'highest' Covid-19 mortality rates in England and Wales

Muslim males in England and Wales have the highest death rates from Covid-19 of all religious groups, according to data released by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). Figures released by the ONS on Friday showed that during the first few months of the coronavirus outbreak, the mortality rate among Muslim males was 198.9 deaths per 100,000 people, and 98.2 deaths per 100,000 for females. In contrast, those identifying with "no religion" – based on responses to the 2011 Census – had the lowest death rate, with 80.7 deaths per 100,000 males and 47.9 deaths per 100,000 females. "With ethnicity included, (this) demonstrates that a substantial part of the difference in mortality... between religious groups is explained by the different circumstances in which members of these groups are known to live; for example, living in areas with higher levels of socio-economic deprivation and differences in ethnic makeup," the ONS report said. Harun Khan, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the ONS findings should be an opportunity for the UK government to find solutions to the disproportionate number of Muslim deaths. "Today's ONS figures confirm what Muslim communities, academics and health-care professionals have been saying for months: that we are dying of Covid at disproportionate rates, and that the root cause of this must be addressed in order to prevent the further unnecessary loss of life," Khan said in a statement. "Yet, the UK Government continues to obfuscate the problem, denying the role institutional racism plays in creating health inequalities, failing to tailor the public policy to the needs of different communities and overseeing the excess deaths of British Muslims.” read the complete article


22 Jun 2020

In France, Protesters Want to Talk About Race. The Establishment Disapproves.

France has long refused to recognize race as anything more than a social construct. In the eyes of the republic, what makes a person French is a willingness to embrace a colorblind identity based on the country’s ideals of “liberty, equality and fraternity.” It is a mentality that affects nearly every facet of French life, from hiring practices to the strict secularism that underpins France’s ban on Muslim headscarves in public buildings. France even forbids the official collection of statistics on race and religion. Now, the eruption of protests across France in solidarity with Black Lives Matter has brought the issue of race to center stage. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the past couple of weeks to protest against police brutality, demanding that police officers be charged in the death of Adama Traoré, a Frenchman of Malian descent who died while in police custody in 2016. Protesters have drawn parallels between Mr. Traoré’s death and Mr. Floyd’s killing. “We’re talking about a structured racist system,” said Youcef Brakni, a member of Truth for Adama, a committee led by Mr. Traoré’s sister, Assa Traoré. “We’re asking for structural change.” Activists have called for the removal of a statue in front of the National Assembly depicting Jean-Baptiste Colbert. A minister in the 17th century court of Louis XIV, Mr. Colbert is considered the father of France’s centrally planned economy. But his signature appears on the Black Code, a colonial ordinance regulating the life of slaves in French colonies. It remained in effect for 163 years. Rooting out systemic racism is hard when historical wounds are still fresh. The Fifth Republic, as France’s modern state is known, was forged by Gen. de Gaulle after the Fourth Republic collapsed in the midst of the 1950s and 60s Algerian War, one of the most brutal chapters in French colonialism and a catalyst for waves of North African immigration in the decades to come. read the complete article


22 Jun 2020

For a few weeks, black lives mattered. Now what?

Something brief and unexpected did happen, although already it feels overshadowed by the brawl that followed over the goals and the methods of the Black Lives Matter movement. There was a global revolt by black people – and in solidarity with black people – that spread at an unprecedented speed and scale. The uprising crossed borders and language barriers, as protesters from Paris, London, Brussels and Minneapolis realised their grievances were the same: the erasure of their history, the cruelty of immigration systems, the impunity of the police. Black anger was too strong to contain, and the numbers in the streets were too large to ignore. One way in which this time was not different was the haste to change the subject: couldn’t we talk about something other than statues and empire and history? Wasn’t all this just the distant past? And so, after a few days of protests, black people were once again put on the stand to answer for all this talk about toppling monuments to slave traders, removing old TV programmes out of rotation on streaming services, renaming venerable pancake syrup brands. Some of this is simply the way our media is set up to host “debates” about whether it’s true that some lives matter more than others. But it is also the way that complaints of racial injustice have always been invalidated. They are turned into matters of opinion, removed from the realm of moral justice and placed in the realm of competing cultural values. This is how movements for racial equality are easily framed as unprovoked assaults on our cherished culture, which is perpetually under threat of being vandalised by race vigilantes. This is the dog-whistle frequency that was heard by those groups of white men who arrived, without being asked, to “defend” statues across England. The press is not the main story here, but we cannot make progress on racial equality without honestly interrogating and challenging the ways that the public conversation on race has been shaped. It is not just the tabloids: from the broadsheets to the BBC, the British press has stoked racism and xenophobia, cynically exploited them for clicks and eyeballs – or hidden behind cowardly equivocation about the sacred right of racists to be heard in weekly columns. And everyone involved is still getting away with it. Editors who happily published Katie Hopkins are today cheerleading for wokeness; others are still working with people who think Black Lives Matter has “a racist agenda”, and telling themselves free speech requires nothing less. read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

Exclusive: Trump held off on Xinjiang sanctions for China trade deal

In an Oval Office interview on Friday afternoon, President Trump told me that he held off on imposing Treasury sanctions against Chinese officials involved with the Xinjiang mass detention camps because doing so would have interfered with his trade deal with Beijing. Asked why he hadn't yet enacted Treasury sanctions against Chinese Communist Party officials or entities tied to the camps where the Chinese government detains Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, Trump replied, "Well, we were in the middle of a major trade deal." "And I made a great deal, $250 billion potentially worth of purchases. And by the way, they're buying a lot, you probably have seen." Trump continued: "And when you're in the middle of a negotiation and then all of a sudden you start throwing additional sanctions on — we've done a lot. I put tariffs on China, which are far worse than any sanction you can think of." read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

Bringing the Israeli model to Kashmir

On August 5, 2019, Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which gave the state its special status and excluded it from the application of various constitutional provisions, was abrogated, while Article 35A, which limited certain residency rights to the local population and granted them certain protections, was altogether scrapped. In October 2019, J&K was dissolved as a state, which meant it no longer had a state assembly empowered to pass legislation, and was divided into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh - allowing New Delhi to bring them under its direct control. Until then, J&K was the only Muslim-majority state in India. With the abrogation of Article 370 and the removal of its status as a state, the region was fully integrated and its population stripped of the special privileges and entitlements it had been enjoying in view of the peculiar nature of the state's history and its accession to India In a late-night move on March 31, when the Indian government officially announced a new domicile rule for Jammu and Kashmir, more clarity was shed on what the future entails. The devil was in the detail. According to the notification called "Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020", anyone who has resided in J&K for 15 years or has studied in the territory for seven years, and appeared in either Class 10 or Class 12 examination, will get residency rights. They will then be eligible for various government jobs. And this is not just about jobs. There is also the question of land ownership and business investment over which the new domicile rule is silent, which means that unlike the past, any Indian may buy land, settle and start a business venture in J&K. Shaped by Hindu right-wing groups openly calling for changing demography of Kashmir and integrationist politics, anxieties of demographic change have existed in Kashmir for decades. Today, a pathway is being paved for replicating the Israeli model of occupation and colonisation of the West Bank in Kashmir towards disempowerment and dispossession of the locals, particularly Kashmiri Muslims, to exercise hegemonic control through new settlers. read the complete article


22 Jun 2020

What's been happening in China's Xinjiang, home to 11 million Uyghurs?

Xinjiang, officially named the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is a remote region in China's far west. It is home to about 11 million Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority that speak a language closely related to Turkish and have their own distinct culture. Rich in natural resources, especially oil and natural gas, the region has seen a large-scale influx of the country's majority Han population in recent decades, amid a concerted effort by the government to develop the region's economy. Historically, Uyghurs had been the majority in the region. Now, they account for just under half of Xinjiang's total population, and many of them live in the southern, rural part of the region. The US State Department estimates that more than one million Uyghurs, as well as members from other Muslim minority groups, have been detained in a sprawling network of internment camps in Xinjiang, where they are reportedly "subjected to torture, cruel and inhumane treatment such as physical and sexual abuse, forced labor, and death." Former detainees have told CNN they experienced political indoctrination and abuse inside the camps, such as food and sleep deprivation and forced injections. When CNN traveled through Xinjiang in 2019, there were surveillance cameras about every 150 feet, monitoring people's faces and daily routines. Mobile police checkpoints popped up at random throughout the region, leading to long lines on public roads. read the complete article

United States

22 Jun 2020

Tennessee Newspaper Apologizes for ‘Utterly Indefensible’ Anti-Muslim Ad

The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville is investigating how it came to publish a full-page ad on Sunday by a biblical prophecy group claiming “Islam” would detonate a bomb in the city. The ad, which included a photo collage of President Trump, Pope Francis and burning American flags, urged readers to visit a website offering more details. The ad was credited to the group Ministry of Future for America, which says its mission is to “proclaim the final warning message” from the Bible. Addressed to “Dear Citizen of Nashville,” the eight-paragraph ad spanned the full length of the newspaper page, and discussed Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Democratic Party and Sept. 11. It claimed Trump’s presidency was part of a prophecy, warned of “another civil war,” and said that “Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device” in Nashville. “Clearly there was a breakdown in the normal processes, which call for careful scrutiny of our advertising content,” Michael A. Anastasi, the newspaper’s vice president and editor, said in the paper’s news coverage of the ad. “The ad is horrific and is utterly indefensible in all circumstances. It is wrong, period, and should have never been published.” read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

Trump nominee denounces past Islamophobic tweets

President Trump’s nominee to head the Pentagon’s policy shop, retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, is denouncing Islamophobic remarks and controversial comments he made about Democratic lawmakers and former President Obama on Twitter in the past. In a letter sent to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and ranking member Jack Reed (D-R.I), Tata said he “deeply” regrets the inflammatory remarks, asserting they do not reflect his character. The condemnation of his previous comments comes in the wake of three retired general officers pulling their endorsements of the nominee after his 2018 tweets — in which he called Islam “the most oppressive and violent religion” and referred to Obama as a "terrorist leader" — came to light. Tata said his rebuke of the controversial tweets is not motivated by his nomination. read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

Muslims demand police reform, back Black-led groups

In the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, dozens of American Muslim organizations have come together to call for reform to policing practices, and to support Black-led organizations. “The victimization of unarmed Black Muslims has a long and troubling history,” said a coalition statement signed by more than 90 civil rights, advocacy, community and faith organizations. “As American Muslims, we will draw on our diversity, our strength, and our resilience to demand these reforms because Black lives matter.” Proposed changes include prohibiting racial profiling and maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, such as choke holds; making it legally easier for prosecutors to hold law enforcement accountable; and redirecting police funding “into community health, education, employment and housing programs.” The statement also calls for establishing “a federal standard that use of force be reserved as a last resort, only when absolutely necessary” and after exhausting all reasonable options. “These demands are a floor for our groups and not a ceiling. Some would call for much more,” Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, one of the statement’s co-conveners, said in response to e-mailed questions. “We’re also urging all American Muslims to call their members of Congress right now and to demand a stronger response from them.” read the complete article

22 Jun 2020

Feds sue Virginia county over law blocking Islamic cemetery

The Justice Department said Friday that the lawsuit alleges that Stafford County violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act by enacting overly restrictive regulations blocking the proposed cemetery. The complaint alleges that an amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance in 2016 blocked the All Muslim Association of America from developing an Islamic cemetery on a 29-acre (12-hectare) parcel of land. Authorities said that after learning of the association’s plans, the county amended the ordinance to require that cemeteries be no closer than 900 feet from private wells and certain types of streams. The ordinance was adopted after neighbors raised concerns about well contamination. The lawsuit alleges that the ordinance is far more restrictive than the Virginia Department of Health’s 100-foot distancing standard. read the complete article


22 Jun 2020

‘We lost our sight’: Life in Myanmar under world's longest internet shutdown

The government-ordered shutdown in two of Myanmar’s poorest states - Rakhine and neighbouring Chin - home to about a million people, is a year old on Sunday. Justified on emergency grounds amid a growing insurgency, it is the longest internet blackout in the world, rights groups say. Myanmar’s bloodiest conflict in decades has spiralled despite the shutdown and more than a dozen residents told Reuters the blackout had made their lives worse From traders losing business to villagers forced to make risky trips to send messages, they described an information freeze that has damaged the economy and left them in the dark about the conflict and the novel coronavirus. “It’s like we lost our sight,” said Ray Than Naddy, 22, from Buthidaung, one of eight townships affected. Rakhine is the region from which hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled in 2017 after a military crackdown that the government said was ordered in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents. But since then, a new conflict has blown up between the army and rebels from the largely Buddhist Rakhine ethnic group, a majority in the state. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya remain confined to camps and villages, subjected to restrictions on movement and access to healthcare. read the complete article


22 Jun 2020

Bloc Québécois MP Who Killed Anti-Racism Motion Promoted Blog Claiming Muslims Invented ‘Islamophobia’

The Bloc Québécois MP who recently blocked a motion condemning racism once criticized a motion on a similarly related topic by circulating a blog that suggested “Islamophobia” is part of a secret “strategy” pushed by Muslims themselves. This week, a motion put forward by NDP leader Jagmeet Singh condemning systemic racism in the RCMP was denied unanimous consent thanks to one dissenting voice: Bloc Québécois House Leader Alain Therrien. Singh was later ejected from the House of Commons after calling Therrien “racist,” a comment deemed to be “unparliamentary language.” Singh maintains a person who votes against a motion condemning racism is, by definition, a racist. As an MNA for the Parti Québécois and a member of the government that pushed forward Québec’s controversial “Charter of Values,” Therrien promoted anti-Muslim content on his official Facebook page. In October 2015, Therrien promoted a blog by André Lamoureux, a Université du Québec à Montréal professor known for controversial anti-Muslim views, once characterizing Islam as a “cancer.” Most recently, Lamoureux publicly endorsed Frédéric Bastien for Parti Québécois leader, a controversial figure who calls multiculturalism a “political religion” and recently vowed torewrite the province’s human rights laws. read the complete article


22 Jun 2020

COVID-19 spreads in cramped Rohingya refugee camp

Monsoon weather in Bangladesh is adding to growing concerns for more than one million Rohingya refugees at risk of coronavirus. Aid workers have repeatedly warned of the disastrous toll it could take on the world’s largest refugee camp, as infections there continue to spread. read the complete article

Today in Islamophobia, 22 Jun 2020 Edition


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