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Author Topic: Islam and women's democratic rights
Wilf Day
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posted 19 May 2003 11:31 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
In rejecting anti-Muslim bias, one of the hardest issues to deal with is their alleged rejection of women's democratic rights.

Let's do a comparison with western countries.

Women generally got the right to vote between 1918 and 1920. Some western countries took longer: Spain, Portugal and Chile in 1931, Brazil in 1934, France and Italy in 1945, Argentina and Mexico in 1947, Greece in 1952, Hungary in 1953, Colombia in 1954, Peru in 1955, and Switzerland in 1971.

Some progressive Muslim countries were similar: Kyrgyzstan 1918, Albania 1920, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan in 1924, Turkmenistan in 1927, Turkey in 1930, and Uzbekistan in 1938.

The biggest Muslim countries had women voting from their creation: Indonesia in 1945, Pakistan in 1947. Algeria and Bangladesh were similar.

Syria came along in 1949, Lebanon in 1952, Egypt in 1956, Malaysia in 1957, Tunisia in 1959, Iran and Morocco in 1963, Libya and Sudan in 1964, Afghanistan in 1965, and Yemen in 1967 -- all before Switzerland.

Jordan in 1974 and Iraq in 1980 brought up the rear. (Dates from http://www.idea.int/women/parl/ch6_table8.htm)

The remaining problems are Saudi Arabia where no one votes, and its friends Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Is this just because they are Muslim? Obviously not.

Clearly some Islamic countries, and some Western countries, still have some work to do on letting women have an equal voice. But we can avoid stereotyping while saying this.


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skdadl
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posted 19 May 2003 12:29 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Wonderful research, Wilfred -- thanks. If I see one large gap, it is the African states (although we all should be doing our own homework, shouldn't we, given the work WD has already done).

I want to ponder those dates, m'self. Others may have more to say about whether voting alone has liberated women -- or many others -- here, there, or anywhere.


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Michelle
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posted 19 May 2003 01:49 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Also, wasn't it only in the 1960's that Native Canadian women got the vote?
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swallow
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posted 19 May 2003 02:06 PM      Profile for swallow     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The criticism tends to look more at society's treatement of women than their right to vote, but this is still a great piece. Also, women have been able to lead Muslim countries despite claims by some that it is a violation of syariah for this to happen: witness Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia & Turkey.
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Mohamad Khan
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posted 21 May 2003 01:02 AM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
bumping this and putting it on hold, because it's sad to see Wilfred's great thread sink while lesser ones rise. this is an important issue and -- wonder of wonders! -- Wilfred critiques it without alienating Muslim readers.

i've stupidly been tangled up in this thread, so that i haven't had time to respond, and i don't think i can do it at this time of night. but, eventually.

before i go to sleep tonight, i have this impulse to get down on my knees, to clench my fists together in a supplicating manner and say in a whining and hysterical voice, "thank you, thank you, thank you for knowing how to pose a question!!!!"


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aRoused
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posted 21 May 2003 08:51 AM      Profile for aRoused     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Michelle: If memory serves it was only after WWII that any native Canadians got the vote, mostly due to agitation and pressure from veterans who had served, but were still denied the vote. I'm guessing that the right to vote was extended to both women and men at the same time, possibly as late as 1967 (when I think they revised the Indian Act, again working from memory here).
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Pathe Eton Hogg
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posted 21 May 2003 10:12 AM      Profile for Pathe Eton Hogg     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Mohamad Khan:
bumping this and putting it on hold, because it's sad to see Wilfred's great thread sink while lesser ones rise. this is an important issue and -- wonder of wonders! -- Wilfred critiques it without alienating Muslim readers.

i've stupidly been tangled up in this thread, so that i haven't had time to respond, and i don't think i can do it at this time of night. but, eventually.

before i go to sleep tonight, i have this impulse to get down on my knees, to clench my fists together in a supplicating manner and say in a whining and hysterical voice, "thank you, thank you, thank you for knowing how to pose a question!!!!"


Well sorry then. Please do not feel obligated to answer any question from me no matter if it fits into your standard or not.

[ 21 May 2003: Message edited by: Pathe Eton Hogg ]


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Michelle
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posted 21 May 2003 10:13 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
No, apparently the right to vote was extended to Native women AFTER Native men. I remember that part clearly from a course I took, but I just can't remember the dates.

Oh wow. I'm trying to find something on google about that, and here's something I didn't know - did you know that homeless people in Canada were not allowed to vote up until the year 2000?

Holy crap!

Found that out from this site.

But really, this is driving me bonkers. I'm almost postive that I learned in my first year women's studies course that Native women were not allowed to vote until after the men. Maybe I'm getting mixed up - maybe it was just that Native women were not allowed to vote until long after white women and women from Quebec.

Hey, isn't it wild that Quebec women were not allowed to vote until 1940? Strange considering that Quebec women have the reputation now for being so progressive, so emancipated. Strange to think I have living female relatives who are old enough that they wouldn't have been able to vote had they lived in Quebec.


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Mandos
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posted 21 May 2003 10:27 AM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I think Quebec only got so emancipated when it shook off the pervasive influence of the Catholic Church and other such things. Alas, it was at the price of those facinating religious curse phrases. Oh, well.
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swallow
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posted 21 May 2003 11:45 AM      Profile for swallow     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I apologize for contributing to this drift, but i think i can clear this up. The rules on voting in Canada were different on and off reserves. Off reserves, aboriginal people could "become Canadian" but on reserves the system was much like that of European countries in their colonies.

Aboringal people living off reserve could obtain the vote if they met certain assimilation-based standards (essentially, if they gave up their Indian status and "became Canadian"). This right was not extended to aboriginal women until women gained the vote nationally.

Band council elections, on the other hand, were conducted under rules set by the Canadian Dept of Indian Affairs, and women were denied the right to vote in these elections until 1951. (In traditional systems of governance, when they survived, women had the same rights or lack of rights as before, for instance women were the only people allowed to choose Iroquois chiefs.) Only in 1960 did aboriginal people (of both sexes) living on reserves get the vote in Canadian elections without having to surrender their Indian status. So in a sense aboriginal men could vote before aboriginal women, but only for band councils. Both sexes got the federal vote at the same time.

In 1985, aboriginal women who married non-aboriginal men finally got the right to keep their Indian status and live on reserves. This was the last vestige of unequal treatment under the Indian act, i think. (Of course the Indian Act still has its multitude of colonial problems, but the different treatement of men and women under law seems to have been finally cleared up.)

Back on topic, does anyone have information on the turn-of-the-century Egyptian feminist movement? I seem to remember reading somewhere that it helped inspire European suffragists, just as Iroquois governance systems inspired some American suffragists.


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jeff house
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posted 21 May 2003 01:25 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
just as Iroquois governance systems inspired some American suffragists.

In general, I am suspicious of claims that native systems of governance influenced or inspired those of Europeans. This influence generally should have occurred, in my opinion, but did not, due to racism.

Commonly, it is claimed that the governance of the Iroquois confederacy influenced the conception of the American founding fathers with respect to such things as federalism. Unfortunately for the theory, though, when federalism is referred to in the writings of that time, by Madison, etc, the experience of Switzerland is referred to, but never the Iroquois. So, if there was influence, it was influence which cannot be proven, because it was not mentioned.

Swallow's point is different, of course, and it could be that suffragists had sufficiently opened their minds to allow influence by native Americans upon their theories.

So the question is: what is the evidence for this hypothesis? Did anyone actually write or say she was so influenced?


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Mycroft_
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posted 21 May 2003 02:31 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The early suffragists in the US and Canada were generally deeply racist (and many were classist as well, while advocacy of birth control was a positive development many of its early supporters were also supporters of eugenics and saw liberalisation of birth control laws as part of a eugenicist agenda).
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lagatta
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posted 21 May 2003 02:52 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Mycroft, there is no question but that most early suffragists were ethnocentric and classist. However as you must know, the development of the women's suffrage movement in the US at least was closely tied to the abolitionist movement, and the lack of civic rights among slaves and all females.
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Mycroft_
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posted 21 May 2003 03:29 PM      Profile for Mycroft_     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That may have been the case in the 1850s and 1860s but by the early 1900s slavery had been abolished for a generation and the legacy of the abolitionist movement on suffragism greatly reduced. Angela Davis wrote an interesting book on the racism of the suffragists of the early 1900s several years ago - don't remember it's name.

[ 21 May 2003: Message edited by: Mycroft ]


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Michael Hardner
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posted 21 May 2003 03:44 PM      Profile for Michael Hardner   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You might also want to include the dates that non-landowning men got the right to vote, to add a class perspective as well.

Interesting...


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jeff house
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posted 21 May 2003 06:37 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I agree with Mycroft that:
quote:
The early suffragists in the US and Canada were generally deeply racist...
but it may well be that Swallow has specific examples, so I will wait to see what he has to say on this.

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swallow
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posted 21 May 2003 08:20 PM      Profile for swallow     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I was thinking of the Seneca Falls conference in 1848, at which some early women's rights activists were inspired by what they saw as the Iroquois example. (The academic debate for and against the case that the Iroquois example was one inspiration for some American founding fathers like Franklin and Adams to adopt federalism, btw, is outlined in Bruce Johansen, Debating Democracy, and it is at least partially convincing since there is at least some evidence for it -- this could be another thread). The case that the Iroquois example inspired some women is also bolstered by the role of Quaker missionaries, who had a mutual cross-fertilization of ideas with late 19th-C Iroquois communities.

One article on the Seneca Falls connection

That article overstates the case, and I want to stress that i am not trying to claim that the Iroquois created North American feminism, merely that their example was seen as an inspiration by some of the key figures of a society that did not treat women the way mainstream North American society did. These women did not in all cases see what was actually there, they saw indigenous societiews through the lens of their own society, and they were inspired by what they saw as being there more than they were by what was actually there, in some cases.

I think that this relates to the original topic because there is a common assumption that Western social movements were created by some sort of immaculate conception, when often they drew on the examples of other societies, even while those drawing the inspiration could often continue to hold racist attitudes.


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bevy
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posted 22 May 2003 11:36 AM      Profile for bevy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
There's also Sally Roesch Wagner's book "Daughters of Dakota; The Untold Story of the Iroquois Influence on Early Feminists" an article can be found on http://www.goddessaltar.com/iroquois_women.htm

Matilda Joslyn Gage (19th century feminist) wrote that "The division of power between the sexes in this Indian republic was nearly equal... its women exercised controlling power in peace and war.. never was justice more perfect, never civilization higher..."

I suppose an argument could be made that the early feminists were appropriative rather than influenced, or a bit of both but there is definately evidence that North American Feminism wasn't born in a vaccuume.


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bevy
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posted 22 May 2003 12:20 PM      Profile for bevy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I just want to add that Wilfred Day had it right in starting this thread. Too often women's rights are touted as a reason to waging imperialist invasions. As this thread's begining illustrated the western and Islamic world are really not that far apart when it come's to women's rights.

I would suggest looking at the writings from Huda Shaarawi and Ester Wissa who (if i remember correctly) were both in the Egyptian Feminist Union in the early 1900s and Nawal El Saadawi who started AWSA.


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Mohamad Khan
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posted 23 May 2003 02:20 PM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Well sorry then. Please do not feel obligated to answer any question from me no matter if it fits into your standard or not.

Pathe, i said *i* was stupid, not you. i'd be happy to answer any well-posed question to the best of my ability.

anyhow...we've had wicked fun in the past debating and discussing the veil in the Feminism forum, so i suppose in response to this i'll be repeating what i've said there, more or less.

the long and the short of it is that there are big problems in terms of women's rights in predominantly Arab and Muslim countries, particularly in the relatively small number of "Islamist" countries and provinces; remember that there are certain countries in which women do not yet have suffrage. but it's always important for Western feminists to be wary of ethnocentrism. there are plenty of inspiring "homegrown" feminists in the so-called Muslim world, as bevy has pointed out, El Saadawi being one of the most interesting, IMO. even in the face of the most patriarchal regimes, such as that of the Taliban, there have been groups like RAWA mounting a resistance. we must be more willing, i think, to recognise that there are many different feminisms at play right now, and we must be able to work with them.


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Justice
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posted 23 May 2003 06:26 PM      Profile for Justice     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Syria came along in 1949, Lebanon in 1952, Egypt in 1956, Malaysia in 1957, Tunisia in 1959, Iran and Morocco in 1963, Libya and Sudan in 1964, Afghanistan in 1965, and Yemen in 1967 -- all before Switzerland.

Jordan in 1974 and Iraq in 1980 brought up the rear.


out of all of these countries how much is a vote really worth???

Women rights yeah??? they don't even have human rights. It's a joke. You all know it's phony it's not real. How can you even compare? How can you say they even reach these western countries knees in justice and human rights. Sure Britain and all the others are far from perfect but it's still the difference between heaven and hell

Britain, Israel, Turkey and Indonesia have all had female Prime Minster's now that's progress. Not even Canada can make that claim.

Israel when it got independence in 1948 not only gave women the right to vote but all so the "natives" and minorities, it even gave them representation in their parliament. From the day it was born so it was declared in their declaration on independence which is often used as a partial constitution.


Women rights yeah??? they don't even have human rights. It's a joke a show and you want to be appolegtic because they have an elction. You all know it's phony it's not really. How can you even compare.

Britian, Israel, Turkey and Indonesia have all had female priminsters now thats advancement.

Israel when it got independnce in 1948 not only gave women the right to vote but all so the netavise and minorities it even gave them repersentation in their parliment. From the day it was born so it was declared in thier delclartion on independce which is often used as a partial constitution.

[ 23 May 2003: Message edited by: Justice ]


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kuba walda
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posted 23 May 2003 06:35 PM      Profile for kuba walda        Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Britain, Israel, Turkey and Indonesia have all had female Prime Minster's now that's progress. Not even Canada can make that claim.

Kim Campbell? Although not elected she was the PM for a few short months.


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verbatim
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posted 23 May 2003 06:37 PM      Profile for verbatim   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Not even Canada can make that claim.

Kim Campbell, from 1993.06.25 - 1993.11.03.

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Black Dog
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posted 23 May 2003 06:40 PM      Profile for Black Dog   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Britain, Israel, Turkey and Indonesia have all had female Prime Minster's now that's progress. Not even Canada can make that claim.

How many female PUSA's have their been, again?


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Justice
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posted 23 May 2003 06:43 PM      Profile for Justice     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Term as Prime Minister
1993.06.25 - 1993.11.03

around 5 months O.K. you win On that point.

[ 23 May 2003: Message edited by: Justice ]


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Justice
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posted 23 May 2003 06:44 PM      Profile for Justice     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
What's a PUSA?
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kuba walda
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posted 23 May 2003 06:45 PM      Profile for kuba walda        Edit/Delete Post
President of the United States of America
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Justice
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posted 23 May 2003 06:52 PM      Profile for Justice     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I never said they had a female President did I what's that have to do with anything so they are on Par with most western countries
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ronb
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posted 23 May 2003 06:53 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
...or POTUS to the Secret Service.
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kuba walda
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posted 23 May 2003 06:57 PM      Profile for kuba walda        Edit/Delete Post
or PUTZ to the rest of us
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Justice
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posted 23 May 2003 07:00 PM      Profile for Justice     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
"PUTZ"??? are you trying to infer something in Yiddish I'm not sure I got the joke?
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kuba walda
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posted 23 May 2003 07:03 PM      Profile for kuba walda        Edit/Delete Post
Don't you own an Oxford dictionary?
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Justice
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posted 24 May 2003 03:33 AM      Profile for Justice     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Sorry not at my current residence. By the way I though on site like this we should be using Canadian dictionary's
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Justice
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posted 24 May 2003 03:37 AM      Profile for Justice     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
You see I know what I'm talking about this is from Webster's dictionary software. Sorry if my english ain't that great were you talking about some thing different?


putz (puts) n. Slang.

1. a fool; jerk.
2. Vulgar. PENIS.

1900–05 Yiddish puts lit., ornament, finery, prob. n. der. of putsn to clean, shine; cf. early mod. G butzen to decorate (G putzen to clean, brighten


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al-Qa'bong
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posted 24 May 2003 04:02 AM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Justice:
By the way I though on site like this we should be using Canadian dictionary's

In Canadian that would be "dictionaries."

Yeah I know, spelling flames; but given the discussion...


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