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In Tunisia, Muslims and Jews come together to honor Paris victim

A vigil in honor of Yoav Hattab, who was killed in the terrorist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris, brought together Tunisians of all faiths to Tunis’ Grand Synagogue. Together they formed a united against all forms of terrorism and extremism.

By Houda Mzioudet

TUNIS — Approximately 200 people gathered Saturday night at the Grand Synagogue in Tunis to pay tribute to Yoav Hattab, the young Tunisian Jew who was killed in the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last week. The crowd, which was comprised of different religious groups and nationalities, lit candles in honor of Hattab, sang the Tunisian national anthem and chanted “Viva Tunisia!”

A Muslim woman and her daughter attend the vigil in honor of Yoav Hattab, Tunis, January 17, 2015. (photo: Houda Mzioudet)

A Muslim woman and her daughter attend the vigil in honor of Yoav Hattab, Tunis, January 17, 2015. (photo: Salma Jarad)

Both local and international media outlets were present at the event, which included renowned academics, Tunisian Jews from across the country and even several foreign embassy employees. The Grand Synagogue is located in Tunis’ Lafayette neighborhood, home to Tunisia’s Jewish community, where Hattab is remembered for attending Shabbat services on a regular basis. His family did not attend the vigil, as they are still mourning in Jerusalem, where Hattab was buried.

One Tunisian Jew paid tribute to those who died defending the Tunisian state – especially the soldiers who were killed by Islamist militants in the Chaambi Mountains near the Algerian border in July 2014. Hattab also died trying to defend hostages during Amedy Coulibaly’s attack on the Hypercacher store in Paris.

“They were were not only martyrs – they should be elevated to the status of saints,” said the man. “Charlie Hebdo cartoonists such as George Wolinski and Elsa Cayat, who died from the terrorist’s bullets, were also Tunisian. Some of the four Jews who died in the kosher market were of Tunisian origin, including Yoav,” he added.

Tsion Cohen, 22, from Djerba attended the vigil to honor Hattab and show support to his family and friends. “We are like a family,” he said, “We wanted to show that Tunisia is the land of all faiths, to show that Tunisians are all brothers – be they Muslims, Jews, Christians or atheists.”

Cohen admitted that although extremists have tried to create divisions between Muslims and Jews in Tunisia, it has not undermined the Jewish community’s feeling of belonging. “I do not think that extremists can become stronger in Tunisia, because the Tunisian flag is what unites us and is above all these divisions,” he said with confidence.

Regarding the controversy surrounding Hattab’s burial in Jersualem, Cohen expressed that he, like most Tunisian Jews, hoped that Hattab would be buried in his home country, and that he does know the reasons behind the decision. “Whether he is buried in Tunisia or Israel, Yoav remains in our heart,” Cohen stressed.

Tunisians march in front of Tunis' Grand Synagogue (left), mourners light candles during a Tunis vigil to honor Yoav Hattab. (photos: Houda Mzioudet)

Tunisians march in front of Tunis’ Grand Synagogue (left), mourners light candles during a Tunis vigil to honor Yoav Hattab. (photos: Houda Mzioudet)

The vigil was organized along with the Tunisian Association for the Support of Minorities, whose president, Yamina Thabet, stressed the fact that Tunisian Jews are part and parcel of Tunisia (the association is also organizing a ceremony in remembrance of Hattab at Hotel Africa on January 18). The mobilization of Tunisian civil society comes in response to the utter failure of the government to commemorate Hattab. Nidaa Tounes, the current ruling party, and specifically President Béji Caid-Essebsi, did not officially condemn the terrorist attack. Only the moderate Islamist Ennahdha party sent its condolences to Hattab’s family, issuing a condemnation of the attack and expressing its grief at the loss of their son.

Those present at the vigil agreed that terrorism is able to strike anyone, making no distinction between people. “Some died because they were Jews – others died because they fought for freedom of expression,” said one of the Tunisian organizers to the crowd, emphasizing that it is incumbent on everyone to condemn any support or sympathy for criminals and their crimes against innocent people. “We are here to pay tribute to those who were killed by hatred,” she added.

Houda Mzioudet is a Tunisian journalist. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here

Related:
Paris victim Yoav Hattab died a Tunisian patriot
The real reason Bibi wants French Jews to move to Israel

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    1. Pedro X

      There is little comfort to be felt from the couple of hundred of people who attended the memorial in Tunisia. In Israel thousands of Israelis attended the funeral of 4 Jews killed in France. In Hattab’s home country only 200, including Jews, journalists and foreign embassy employees, attended his vigil.

      Meanwhile Tunisia has supplied thousand of fighters to ISIS and other radical Islamic groups fighting in Syria. Hundreds of Tunisia’s female children as young as thirteen have been sent to Syria as whores to please hundreds of fighters.

      Lisa Goldman in this mag proclaimed Mr. Hattab a Tunisian patriot. Yet only 200 attend his memorial. His country’s government has not sent condolences to the Hattab family much less make any memorial for him. The Tunisian government has not even condemned the attack which killed Hattab.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bruce Gould

        Translation: hate.

        Reply to Comment
      • sh

        On the contrary, there is a great deal of comfort to be drawn from it, particularly the fact that of all political parties it was Ennahda, an Islamist party, that condemned the murders, participated in the memorial and expressed regret.

        Reply to Comment
      • Josh

        What a shitload of bull.
        Hasbara agent X can’t stand the fact that Muslims and Jews are able to stand together. More of that and imbecible Pedro needs a new job

        Reply to Comment
    2. Baladi Akka 1948

      Personally, I was very touched by the killing at the kosher market (I live not far from there), and particularly by the killing of Yoav Hattab because I’ve spent much time in Tunisia and know his native town of Halq al-Wadi (La Goulette) pretty well. I was deeply touched by the pain of his father when interviewed on French television too.
      Still, when I saw the many photos of Yoav during his ‘Birthright’-trip to Israel last month with the Israeli flag around his shoulders, and pictures of Yoav wearing the Israeli military uniform and pictures next to Israeli soldiers, all smiling, I felt very bad. Maybe the ‘friend’ who stated on Facebook that Yoav was impatient to finish his studies in Paris in order to move to Israel and join the army is lying but these photos don’t lie.
      Much more people signed up for the vigil (4.000 if my memory is correct), but the pictures and the fact that Yoav was buried in Jerusalem probably made many stay away. I do understand the funeral in the Land of Israel, Yoav was a religious person, and it’s not automatically a political act, but wearing the Israeli uniform (even on photos) and being pictured next to armed Israeli soldiers is.
      May he rest in peace, and may his memory be eternal.

      NB. I’m not trying to be polemical but this is part of the story too, and not only the feel good article here. In fact it’s part of the tragedy

      Two other victims at the kosher market were of Tunisian origin: François-Michel Saada was born in Tunis, and Yohan Cohen was of Tunisian origin too, his maternal grand-father was a famous Tunsian singer, Doukha, who died just one month ago.
      http://www.harissa.com/news/article/doukha-chanteur-jud%C3%A9o-tunisien

      Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        France24 (in French): images from the vigil in Tunis: http://www.france24.com/fr/20150118-yoav-hattab-hommage-rendu-tunis-tunisien-epicerie-casher-paris-amedy-coulibaly/?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=dlvr.it

        For people who undertand French, a very good and touching documentary about the Tunisian Jews made by a female filmmaker of Tunsian Jewish origin.
        “Bons baisers de la Goulette” (Kisses from La Goulette): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUYxrxlDgnk

        Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Careful there, Biladi. You’re gonna hurt poor Pedro’s feelings and he’s very sensitive. He gets upset when he sees any shared humanity and decency between Arabs and Jews. It upsets the whole narrative.

        Reply to Comment
        • Baladi Akka 1948

          I didn’t even read Pedro’s comment before you mentioned him. I see he’s still stuck in the hoax about “hundeds of Tunisian females sent to Syria as whores”. it’s been debunked since 2013 though… You think he isn’t aware ?
          Look at this Tweet from Yoav Hattab: http://m.cafebabel.com/cache/b1/6f/b16f7ac9a2eb5b1d25de7773af9948bb.jpg

          Believe me, I’m very saddened to see how the Jewish communities in the Arab countries have dwindled. I know an elder Moroccan man (Arab Muslim father, Berber Jewish mother) who’s seen the thriving Jewish community leaving the country little by little since he was a kid, and he’s heartbroken. Though he’s Muslim, and his kids are Muslims, he’s encouraged them to study Hebrew to perpetuate the memory of the Moroccan Jewish community. As in Tunisia, the Morroccan Jews spent their summer holidays in their homeland by the thousands, I would so much love them to return to revive that ancient and beautiful culture.
          A Tunisian hero: he’s buried in the Jewish cemetery in Tunis:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Adda
          PS. Hasbaristas (Bar, GingerAle etc), don’t need to react to my comment.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Susan

      Yes, this is encouraging, but it doesn’t help to ignore the antisemitism that now permeates the Muslim world. Antisemitism is not Islamic. It is imported from Western Christian Europe, but it is everywhere. Perfectly moderate Muslims believe The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are true. You are not promoting peace by pretending this is not true.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Mikesailor

      Susan: I think the “antisemitism” scare is way overblown and gives an excuse to those who do despicable acts and then claim immunity because they are Jews. If you build settlements on the West Bank, and people despise you for it, is that antisemitism? If you kill children in Gaza playing soccer on the beach, and someone blames Israeli Jews, is that antisemitism? If Israeli politicians call African asylum-seekers “infiltrators” and try to make life so uncomfortable they “voluntarily” repatriate themselves to the land they fled, and others call them on it, is that “antisemitism”? Leave alone the “Protocols” for a minute (actually that is the reddest of herrings), look at Israeli actions done with the assistance, both financial and political, of Jews in the Diaspora and then tell me: If another group treated another people the same way as the Israeli Jews have treated Muslims, would you give the oppressors the same cover and excuses? I think the Jewish community overall has overplayed both the antisemitism and Holocaust cards. and the more they attempt to play them, the less credibility they have.

      Reply to Comment
      • GilGamesh

        Murdering French Jews in Paris because you are angry at the actions of Israel is anti-Semitism. Bending over backwards to excuse those murders is also anti-Semitism.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Susan

      I am an American Jew and I have no control over Israel’s actions nor do I vote in Israeli elections. I do support Israel’s existence, but I don’t support most of the actions of the current government.

      I am also an American, I support my country, but I often don’t approve of its actions.

      I don’t think Israel’s actions are a good excuse for antisemitism or for attacking and threatening and Jews anywhere in the world. I am a dove, but the left refuses to admit that there is Muslim antisemitism. I’d probably vote for Meretz if I was Israeli.

      I can give you the example of Jews who are visibly marked as Jews being threatened and harassed.
      When Hamas attacks Israeli Jews, I don’t think its OK to attack Muslims in America.

      Reply to Comment
      • Mikesailor

        Susan: Do you support Israel as strictly a “Jewish” state or should it be a state with equal rights and responsibilities for all of its citizens? There is some Muslim antisemitism but before there was Israel you would have a hard time finding it. In fact, it was the Muslims who transported the Jews form Spain during the Inquisition and basically protected them since. But, you must admit that with Jews like Pam Geller and Daniel Pipes pushing Islamophobia, and most Jews either agreeing or staying silent, can one doubt that: what is good for the goose etc. It is not merely Israeli actions, it is the silent acquiescence and political cover. You say that when Hamnas attacks Israeli Jews, you don’t think its OK to attack Muslims in the US. Is it OK for Israel to shell children on the beach of Gaza? Or shoot them with “sponge-tipped” bullets in the West Bank? Is it OK for Israel to kill unarmed teenagers? And never a criminal charge for anything? That is the problem, Susan. Giving a pass to the more powerful side merely because they are of the same religion.ethnicity/culture is racism, pure and simple. And as I condemn US drone strikes which kill innocents, why should I give Israel a free pass? I despise most killing for it rarely solves anything and makes real coexistence impossible. So, do you give Israel a free pass or should they be held to the same standard we hold everyone else?

        Reply to Comment
    6. Susan

      Yes, I know about the history of Spain. Although in Span Muslims were in charge. Most of the antisemitism now in the Arab world is Western Christian antisemitism. It has become deeply entrenched in Muslim nation.

      I think that it is possible for Israel and a Jewish state and state with equal rights and responsibilities for all. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. America is a democracy, but we put Japanese Americans in detention camps.

      No, I don’t support drone strikes or killing children on the beaches of Gaza or anything else that you mentioned. I still don’t think that is not a valid reason to attack Jews. Jews should not have to be afraid to be visibly marked as Jews in the UK or France.

      Demonstrations against the Gaza War often became anti-Zionist bashing of Israel’s existence and I had to leave. Jews have spoken up agains Pam Geller and Daniel Pipes.

      Reply to Comment
      • Saloua

        the lady next to the little girl is not her mother is her aunt. thank you to verify the information before the published

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mikesailor

      Susan: We may have put Japanese-Americans in detention camps but we didn’t keep them there for decades. Your problem is that you have conflated Judaism with Zionism when they are really two completely different things. Zionism is a political philosophy which posits that Jews “deserve” a state of their own and anyone who is not a Jew should be allowed no real say in politics. Therefore, stealing from non-Jews is all right, so is killing and wounding them with impunity. You must admit that the West Bank and Gaza, even if they are not considered a state in their own right at present, still do not belong to Israel. The problem I have seen is Jews considering themselves “Liberal” Zionists. That is a contradiction in terms. For, as I’ve said, Zionism presupposes rights for Jews which can not be shared by non-Jews. Special privilege in other words. Therefore real equal rights cannot exist between Jews and non-Jews in a “Jewish” state. As for that bugaboo “antisemitism”. I consider that, like patriotism, to be the last refuge of scoundrels. If you give money to the Jewish state, if you financially and politically support their oppression of non-Jews, why should you be held immune? Have you protested the idea of the IDF being able to recruit soldiers in the US, a privilege given to no other foreign army? Or that “Jewish” charities can be used to supplement the IDF and by the funds being tax-deductible, make all US citizens pick up the difference? Same with charities which finance settlement building in the West Bank which is totally antithetical to stated US policy? Do you have the intestinal fortitude like JVP to say “Not in My Name” and protest the use of US weaponry by Israel in derogation of US law which states it can only be used in self-defense? If Jews receive special privileges given to nobody else can you see why any criticism of such privilege is seen by Zionists as antisemitism? It used to be that antisemitism was the hatred of Jews for an accident of birth, ie. born Jewish. Now, it is used as a weapon to attack all those who point out the fallacy and racism underlying Zionism. In other words, now the term is used to define those the Jews hate. Frankly, I don’t care one way or the other. But the hypocrisy and whining does get a bit wearing at times.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Gustav

      Mikey

      We don’t have to go too far to meet real live antisemites, you too are one. You often sounded off against Jews without bringing Zionism or Israel into it. No use denying it, you know I am right.

      Balad
      It is anazing how often people like you feel touched by dead Jews. Maybe when you will learn to recognize the humanity of LIVE Jews, you might impress us with your compassion. In the meanwhile… words are cheap.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Gustav

      Mikey

      By what right do you deny the Jewish people the right to have our own nation state?

      And by what stretch of an imagination do you claim that a Jewish majority state Inevitably HAS TO deny the rights of minorities?

      If you stand by that claim, then at least be honest enough to concede that in places where Jews are minorities, we are automatically discriminated against. Of course, such a claim need not automatically be right. So, by the same token, the non Jewish minorities in a Jewish state need not be considered as a DISCRIMINTED minority.

      The proof is in the pudding. The test is how minorities are treated by the majority in PEACE TIMES. How they are treated during war is not a valid test. War is ABNORMAL and it institutes abnormal behavior by everyone. Both by the minorities and the majority. And if you don’t realize that, then you are either biased or brain dead, or both!

      Reply to Comment
      • Baladi Akka 1948

        “It’s amazing how often people like you feel touched by dead Jews”
        People like me ? Haha, you racist thug ! It’s probably the first time I’ve written anything about ‘dead Jews’ here. But let’s be clear: I’m NOT touched by dead Jews in Isreali army uniforms killed in occupied Palestine.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Baladi

          The term “racist thug” rolls off your biased self absorbed mouth so easily. But the truth is that YOU are the racist thug!

          Reply to Comment
    10. Mikesailor

      If you had purchased property from the owners, perhaps you would have a point. Taking land at gunpoint and ethnically cleansing the indigenous inhabitants gives you NO rights. Remember the major terrorists at the beginning of the twentieth century were Jewish. And two of the worst, Begin and Shamir, you made Prime Ministers. Do you wonder why your credibility is non-existent? As for denying rights, you even had the head of Shin Bet claiming that anyone trying to change the nature if the state to give equal rights to all would be defined as an “enemy of the state” whether the “enemy” used legal means like elections or not. In secular societies, Jews are ceded the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else. Jews are not discriminated against; instead they are actually granted privileges allowed no other identifiable group. For instance, the IDF is allowed to recruit in the US. No other military is granted that allowance.Would you like other examples? Get some better hasbara Gussie, you’re slipping.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “If you had purchased property from the owners, perhaps you would have a point”

        Funnily enough when we first started to return to our ancestral homeland, we did purchase lands from absentee Arab landlords. Many of those lands were swamps but after we drained those swamps and turned those lands to useful agricultural lands, the Arabs tried to drive us off those lands.

        “Taking land at gunpoint and ethnically cleansing the indigenous inhabitants gives you NO rights”

        True but defending ourselves after having been attacked gives us all the rights to keep our ancestral homelands.

        “Remember the major terrorists at the beginning of the twentieth century were Jewish”

        Nope, you are lying again. The Arabs started their terror against us way before the likes of Begin and Shamir resorted to terrorism. Read up on the 1929 massacre of the Jews of Hebron. Irgun and Lehi did not exist in 1929!

        “And two of the worst, Begin and Shamir, you made Prime Ministers”

        Read what I said above and try to digest it.

        “Do you wonder why your credibility is non-existent?”

        My credibility is better than yours. You are just a hateful mixed up propagandist, Mikey.

        “As for denying rights, you even had the head of Shin Bet claiming that anyone trying to change the nature if the state to give equal rights to all would be defined as an “enemy of the state”

        BS!

        “In secular societies, Jews are ceded the same rights and responsibilities as anyone else”

        Really? Even in Arab lands? But in Israel, Arab Israeli citizens have the same legal rights as Jewish Israeli citizens except in terms of immigration. Moreover, Israel is in a formal state of war with the Palestinian Arabs. And this has been so for the last 100 years because the Palestinian Arabs refuse to sign a formal peace deal with us.

        “Jews are not discriminated against; instead they are actually granted privileges allowed no other identifiable group”

        Do tell us more. So now Jews have more priviliges in America than non Jews? You are a clown aren’t you?

        “For instance, the IDF is allowed to recruit in the US. No other military is granted that allowance.Would you like other examples? Get some better hasbara Gussie, you’re slipping.”

        There is only one problem with your above little claim Mikey … it is a lie! The IDF does not recruit in the US or anywhere else. You are confusing volunteers with recruitment. The former is voluntary (as the name suggests) the latter would be an active campaign to find recruits. I bet you can’t point to any such active campaign because Israel does not need foreign recruits. For your information, we have no shortage of personnel in the Israeli army because most Israelis consider it to be an honor to serve in our citizen army which is here to defend us from those who want to murder us.

        Reply to Comment
    11. Susan

      I completely disagree with your definition of Zionism. Just because there is a Jewish majority does not mean that the minority is not equal. That is not the philosophy of Zionism.

      Israel is not perfect, and does not always live up to its ideals, but it has been at war with its neighbors and faced with implacable hatetred since its birth.

      You still haven’t explained why and of this means it is acceptable to attack Jews in France. You are the one conflating Jews and Zionism. Hasidic Jews are often targets because they are visibly marked as Jews, but most of them are not Zionists.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Mikesailor

      Susan: Then what is your definition of Zionism, both in theory and in practice? Why do you think Israel has faced the hatred of its neighbors? Merely because they are Jews? Let me remind you that Jews lived in every country in the Middle East prior to the Zionist invasion. Do you think Israeli actions like the Lavon affair could have something to do with the problem and the expulsions/fleeing of the Jews from the various countries? How about the false flag bus attacks in Iraq which caused Iraqi Jews to flee their homeland? I do not condone attacks upon anyone, but I also am not hypocritical enough to say that Jews, especially Israeli Jews, hardly ever miss a chance to vilify “Arabs” whether Muslim, Christian or other. Like I said before, you can protest Israeli actions and attempt to change their policies like JVP or other groups. Or you can financially and politically support Israel either through approval or acquiescence to its policies. I suppose a third way would be to become completely apolitical and apathetic although if you are writing here I doubt that’s the case. Now, if you are a member of JVP or another non-Zionist organization, you will risk the opprobrium of the Jewish establishment and be called a “self-hating Jew”. If you are a Zionist, then I hate to tell you but you will receive similar treatment from those who support human and civil rights for all, regardless of religion/ethnicity or culture. And the non-choice will probably leave you on the outside, period. So which is it? The belief structure of an Einstein, Spinoza, Magnes or Arendt? Or Jabotinsky, Herzl, Begin, Ben-Gurion or Sharon? Or none of the above? By the way, being an innocent in this mess and not choosing sides, or choosing one or another will not render one immune from attacks by the ignorant or those who never make distinctions on an individual basis. That is the way of the world. It may be unfair to the individual but look at what Israel does with home demolitions or indiscriminate killings and realize that you are also involved no matter what.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        I don’t know about Susan’s definition of Zionism but for most of the rest of us, the answer is simple.

        Zionism is the idea of self determination for the Jewish people, not as in religion but as a people or nation. The right to live in our own country, speak our own language, practice our own religion (for those who are religious) and our own culture.

        Simple isn’t it? Zionists can be extreme leftists or rabid right wingers or anywhere in between. What we all have in common is our insistence to have our own state where we can have self determination. Our differences are the way we want to implement our Zionist vision. But so long as we all want a Jewish state or at least support the idea, we are all Zionists. Those who don’t are not Zionists.

        Reply to Comment
    13. Mikesailor

      Gussie: If that is your definition of Zionist, then I am proud to be an Anti-Zionist. For I don’t believe that Jews have been given a “divine” right to dispossess others of their life, liberty and property. Which is what they have done and what presently they continue to do. I side with Einstein, Magnes, Spinoza, Shahak, Pappe, and all others who acknowledge the past and wish to stop the present criminal behavior of the Zionists. Are they “antisemitic”? Perhaps if you conflate Zionism with Judaism. Or are they universalists and upstanding human beings as well as Jews?

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Mikey

        In order to dispossess another people from their lands, they have to own those lands in the first place. In my previous post I reminded you that we paid for those private lands which Absentee Arab landlords had title deeds to. The rest of the lands which we call Israel were never Arab owned. They were crown lands owned by non Arab conquerors. And going back 2000 years, we owned those lands even if you’ll go to all sorts of lengths to deny that undeniable historical fact which is backed up by archeological findings as well as written history and not just the Bible.

        Now, hypocrites like you on the other hand, live on lands which your ancestors dispossessed American Indians so stop standing on your doap box and accuse us of taking possession of our ancestral homeland which the UN voted for us and for which we paid with our blood after Arabs tried to slaughter us for it. You hypocrite!

        Why do I call you hypocrite? Because someone like you who accuses us for living on our ancestral homeland should return to your old country wherever that is in Europe or more likely Arabia (judging by your vehemence). You should not live on stolen lands you hypocrite!

        Reply to Comment
    14. Susan

      You don’t need to remind me that Jews lived in every country of the Middle East. Jews were accepted as second class citizens. They were seen as a tolerated minority. It is very different from accepting Jews as a majority population with Muslims as a minority. Also, Muslims and other Arabs began absorbing Western Christian antisemitism.

      My definition of Zionism is a place where Jews can control their own destiny. Its other purpose is to be a place of refuge for all Jews. I can live in America because Israel exists. You never know what will happen.

      Reply to Comment
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