Farwell to the cross

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Screenprint from nrk.no

A few months ago a Norwegian TV-reporter in our state channel was told not to wear a cross as a neclace. The tiny piece of jewelery, less than 1.5 centimeter, was a gift from her husband, bought in Dubai. The broadcasting council in Norway supported the ban. There have been similar cases with women beeing banned for wearing crosses as jewelry in other European countries.

A couple of months later, in January this year, the Norwegian Armed Forces received an award for allowing hijab in the forces. The award was given by a minister from Fremskrittspartiet, a party that a Swedish commentator recently called “the mass murder’s favorite gang”, the murderer beeing the right wing terrorist Anders B. Breivik.

So the world has turned upside down. A small cross, often used as jewelery by Christians, secular, and probably atheists alike in Scandinavia, is forbidden. And the hijab is rewarded, and that by a party known as the one and only party with “hostility towards immigration” in Norway. Nobody mentioned the millions of women who are forced to cover around the world, and even punished or killed if they don’t. Just look at the new video, allegedly showing the schoold girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. How happy they look, forced to be veiled. I don’t doubt that individuals feels the hijab is just a sign of devotion, but it is also an instrument of oppression. And why is the headscarf strongly forbidden in Morocco’s military and the police, a country with 99 % Muslims, and awarded in Norway?

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Every year one of the Muslim fundamentalist organizations in Norway arrange what they call a “peace conference”.  I think we should call on George Orwell and his newspeak. Imams from many Western countries participate, many notoriously known for hate speech, like Anjem Choudary and Haitham Al-Haddad. I recommend to read what the web site The Islamic FarRight In Britain quotes from Al-Haddad:

«The far ultimate aim for Muslims is to have Islam governing the whole world, Islamisation of the whole globe. This is the ultimate aim of any Muslim and of all communities.»

And about the freedom in religion in the future muslim state in Europe: “Any person who wants to believe in Christianity, he can. Anyone who wants to believe in Hinduism, he can. Anyone who wants to believe in atheism, he can. But he has to what? To bear the consequences.”

Al-Haddad’s videos are used extensively by Islam Net on Facebook. This is a fundamentalist organization aimed to spread Islam in Norway, and they are so successful that they run their own school for converts. And have 14.035 members in a closed group on FB, and 7.350 in an open group.

During the «peace conference” last year they asked the participants if stoning is the best punishment for adultery and homosexuality. 1500 people (4000 according to Islam Net) raised their hands.

So what is my point by all this? My point is that the Norwegian society is pushing the old traditions and religion in this country under the carpet, and at the same time opens the gates for those with a totalitarian interpretation of another religion. I find this very strange.

And strange again when the board for the Church of Norway voted about gay marriages a few weeks ago. Not gay marriages as such, that has been legal for years, but gay marriage in the church. The proposal fell against a small majority and will certainly be passed someday soon. But rage went loose around the country. Thousands quit the church in protest. They do not see that the Norwegian Church is almost completely reformed and one of the most generous in the world. And they don’t see the narrowmindedness around the corner.

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Myself I find it more necessary to fight where the real oppression exists, and where reforms remains. It does not mean I believe all Muslims have such bigoted and dangerous opinions, absolutely not, but they do exist. In February, one of the islamists in Norway was sentenced for threats against journalists. He was also convicted of hate speech against Jews, but acquitted of hate speech against a gay person. According to the court, he had freedom of religion to encourage stoning of a gay writer living in NorwayThe sentence was 120 days, but he didn’t go to jail. Part of the sentence was suspended and the other part was spent in custody.  The screen print above is showing how this islamist was celebrating 9/11 on his Facebook page.

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The secular populations in Scandinavia and Northern Europe are leaving their churches. And Muslims are ready to take over. Even in my little hometown, 500-600 km north of Oslo. A Norwegian convert writes on the local FB-site for Islam Net that they are ready to take over, but maybe not yet Nidarosdomen. The Cathedral (photo below) is built over the burial site of Saint Olaf, king of Norway in the 11th century, who became the patron saint of the nation. The church is the traditional location for the consecration of the King of Norway, it is almost 1000 years old and is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world. This is what she wrights on the screenprint above, my translation: “Sisters and brothers in Trondheim, hope you look for opportunities to buy churches that can be used as a mosque. It need not be Nidaros Cathedral right away, hehe, but look at Bakke Church. It will fit perfectly! It even has a minaret if the top part is cut down a bit (can be handled by the Cultural Heritage Management Office).”

I do not believe that some religions are better than others (although I expect religions to be reformed for our time). But Christianity is most important in Norway, since it is part of thousand years of tradition and history. So it is actually rather rude to want to take over the churches. I also think it is double standards of the many secular who want to eradicate Christianity, while they open all doors for another religion. Some of its proponents work for a future where there would be no freedom left.
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66 thoughts on “Farwell to the cross

  1. Soon, there will only 2 religions: radical Islamists on one side, and Evangelical Christians on the other. They can build a massive arena and fight the Crusades all over again.

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    1. I would rather have that situation as an internet-game. Until a few years ago I thought the brutality and intolerance from the age of the Crusades were gone for ever, but it seems you may be right. Hope not. Thanks for your comment, Bill.

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    2. I agree, Bill, this seems to be the scary trend the world is heading for. Two religious sects that are both the same, really; both are hate-filled, war-loving, patriarchal, bigoted groups. Both groups hate with a vengeance. Their hate is aimed at women, queer people, and anyone who doesn’t ascribe fully to their doctrines of closed-mindedness, but completely.
      Bente, another very interesting article.

      I have also heard of people in the airline industry, in the States being asked/ told not to wear their crosses. Religious prosecution is wrong, especially when it is imbalanced, and therefore very biased.
      Micol

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    1. Well then I have to cross my fingers that mine will not be jammed. Or maybe I rather knock the table. Thanks, Yoshizen, may it not be even worse than now, but improve in some way.

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      1. You’re very courageous, bente, for posting this subject. Personally, I think the news anchor on your TV should sue them for discrimination! Fear works in many ways; divide and conquer is the most obvious, and your article on what’s happening there is one very good example. For me, religion is a No-No; I do not like anyone telling me what to think, how to be, and so on. I’m much too old for that and always think for myself.

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  2. It sounds very very bad. Not allowed to wear cross pendants? Taking over churches? You have a big problem in Norway, I would never have thought. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope it does not come to that in Germany.

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    1. In UK there have been many cases against women who wants to wear a cross at work, as shown in a link above. So this isn’t just a Norwegian issue. Thanks for your comment, Labelle.

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      1. I had no idea it had come so far. I am so sorry that you have to deal with such problems. The only explanation I can find is that some countries are so desperate to grow their population (since the birth rate has become so low in so many countries) that they would let anyone in. I think a good immigration policy reduces the acceptance to people the country really needs: like IT, medical, technical professions and leave the rest be.

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  3. It breaks my heart as I see what is happening unfold in this world. I have been hassled by “christians” on my blog, because I will not admit I am one. Everyone’s religion is very private and no one has the right to say otherwise. This horrible movement I see scares me. I have stayed away from churches because of what I see happening. So many churches do not represent something that is sacred anymore. Where this is headed again really scares me. May miracles occur to stop this madness. xx Amy

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    1. I so much agree. Religion should be private, but some groups are very pushy and demanding. Around here it is not the christians anymore, on the contrary, they are almost invisible. I guess you live in the US were there still are some very fundamentalist christians around. What is sacred in every religion and in anybodys heart should be respected. But I don’t respect people who bully or terrorize others, or want to do so.Thanks for your comment, Amy.

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      1. Oh, Honey, you are welcome. I get “hot around the collar” when some won’t respect who I am. I LOVE GOD, or the name you have for the Almighty Higher Power. I live my life on the Higher Path that which is called Love. I won’t label God and I won’t label me. What I have in my Heart is Sacred, Holy, and I extend that to all I do in my Life. Yes, I live in the States, and believe me there are groups that I consider dangerous, all in the name of Jesus. I shudder inside, for what is being done is in exact opposite to what Jesus came here to teach …. LOVE. Anyways… I am not shy about saying these things either. Twice I told my followers IF I make you nervous or uncomfortable because I am different unfollow me because I really don’t want you in my Sacred Grounds called Petals Unfolding. I came here to reach the broken in heart, spirit and body, with LOVE and no one is going to put me in a corner to paint me as this that or the other. I have a post coming, (the words came today) one of my LONG ones, which is very involved matching photos to the words. In essence I heard (yes I do hear Spirit) words for all war to cease. In the right time, it shall be put on. Another one I heard I am sitting on, for it is deep and I as the person I am, am not sure if it is “right” for Petals. Wow.

        You truly got an earful. Your post really brought to the surface words on how my heart feels, and I do honor you for allowing me the space to express myself. I pray with all I am, that the work that some of us do, who bring in Love and Light into this world, will be enough to turn this world around to our natural state of Being… that which is LOVE. Bless you!!! (((HUGS))) and with So Much Love, Amy

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      2. Nobody who choose love and peace will ever make me uncomfortable, Amy, that is for sure. That should be the goal for all in this world. And if we are different, that only makes the world richer, exactly as it is with flowers. Best wishes for you and the upcomming post. Hugs, and a lot of love!

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  4. That is such a brave post Bente, although it shouldn’t be. Brave because it has become politically incorrect to criticise religions that are growing in countries, such as yours and mine, where immigration has swelled their popularity, and, as we all know, Islam is not to be criticised. We have liberals (in the widest sense of the word) in our countries now who are not actually defending liberalism, the right to free speech, equal rights for all, including women, and yet who are defending doctrines, such as radical Islam, that encourage capital punishment for apostacy and homosexuality and discourage eduction and equal rights for women. We all need to realise that Islam is not a race and you are not being racist if you criticise it. It is a set of beliefs that we are not required to ‘respect’ if we find some of those beliefs offensive. All people should have the right, in fact should be encouraged, to express themselves in a civilised and decent society, but also have the right not to have beliefs held by others imposed upon them, particularly if those beliefs encourage violence, hatred and oppression. And I’m afraid that radical Islam comes very much into that category, and all decent, civilised people should stand against it and should not be afraid to do so.

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    1. I am puzzled too about all those who appear to be liberal but who in fact are defending doctrines that are inhuman, directly or indirectly. In my opinion it must be possible to criticize any religion, just as in politics. How can we otherwise obtain reform and progress? BUT, my two latest posts are not criticizing Islam, only radical Islam, or political Islam as it is also called. That is people who want to impose the most fundamentalistic doctrines on all of us, and of course erase democracy, equality and all the human rights we have fought for. You are so right, all decent people should stand up against anything and everybody who encourage oppression, but many do the opposite. I would like to quote Sam Harris from a conversation with Ayaan Hirsi Ali: “Most liberals think that religion is never the true source of a person’s bad behavior. Even when jihadists explicitly state their religious motivations—they believe that they have an obligation to kill apostates and blasphemers, and they want to get into Paradise—liberal academics, journalists, and politicians insist on looking for deeper reasons for their actions.” More: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/lifting-the-veil-of-islamophobia#sthash.lKIj00xo.dpuf%E2%80%9CIslamophobia%E2%80%9D%E2%80%94which
      Thanks for a very interesting comment, Mike, and enjoy your music and the spring.

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      1. Thank you Bente, I can think of no better person to quote from on this issue than Sam Harris. I agree with you absolutely. Keep taking your lovely photos, in my opinion things like that play an important, but subtle, part in the fight against these things

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      2. You are welcome, Mike, and thanks again. Just googled Harris to know more and here is an other quote I like: “we should be decent, honest people, who destroy bad ideas wherever we find them”. I guess I return to photography, but who known, might write some times too. I am very happy with all this discussion.

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  5. Let the Norway Government award terrorism awards, there is a war against Christianity. Europe is already infested with the worst epidemic that will destroy Europe with chaos .Europe living a nightmare.%0 million Immigrant are multiplying very fast and the will take over Europe. When l used to study in Vienna there were none today Vienna is flooded with Afghan,Pakistanians etc,etc.

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  6. It would seem that Christianity is being ‘pushed under the carpet’ lately – not just in Norway. Globalization is gradually erasing religions and traditions. A country should primarily respect the beliefs and traditions of its citizens. They are a country’s history. Abolishing them for the sake of being ‘politically correct’ is suspicious to say the least. To take it a step further, people without past do not exist! One of the reasons why I object whenever I hear ‘live for the moment, like there is no future and forget the past’, but that’s a different story. Respect is the word here and it is addressed to ALL parties concerned and everyone! I agree with the aforementioned ‘brave post’, Bente.

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    1. There are good elements in globalization, and I like the contact crossing borders. But too many people think we can just as well wipe out our history and traditions, as if there were no bonds, no roots. I am afraid the community will fade away, but I hope not. Actueally I like what is typically in every nation, not the least in the small ones. Like Greece, like Norway, just to mention two. That doesn’t mean there should be no immigration or emmigration. Thanks a lot for your comment, Marina.

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  7. I also agree with Mike, Bente, this is a brave post “although it shouldn’t be.” You are right, the world is upside down, and you have a right to expect that Christianity, in which your country is rooted, will be respected, upheld and cherished. We must be wary of entities–religious or otherwise–that seek to stealthily or overtly upend the faith and core beliefs which have carried us for centuries. Christianity has been dismissed bit by bit in many countries. Each time the cross is denied, each time a Christmas tree is removed from a public venue, each time the Lord’s Prayer is snatched from the lips of school children, those who are struggling and in need of hope, of having their faith reinforced, slip a little closer to a reality which is rotting from the inside out. Liberalism, when it produces such results, is simply another word for perversion.

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    1. As a secular society there is no prayer in schools (or maybe in some private christian school). These days many schools and parents forbid the children to go to church before Christmas holiday, which was always the tradition, and that I find a bit too much. Usually the Muslims think this is ok, but nor the atheists. And every child is free to not attend. Personally I think it is important children learn about religion in school, believers or not. About all religions, and most about the religion that has been most important in the individual country. Because religion have had such influence. You can hardly understand art whitout knowing religious symbols. That often go for photography too.

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  8. A very passionate post Bente. I detest fundamentalism in any form, and believe me we have as many fundamentalists on both sides here as well. And the appeasement you speak of is purely political, used by each side as it suits them. I am aghast that educated people fall for these gimmicks in this day and age. We have so far had a government that has been accused of appeasing muslims. In the next few days we are most probably going to be voting in a prime minister who, as the chief minister of a region, was accused of, if not orchestrating a riot that killed thousand of muslims, at least standing by and watching one! Completely acquitted by the courts of course. Why does religion have to be used this way at all? When did it change from being a spiritual exercise to being a divisive force? I am sick and tired of the hatred. I am worried that we are all going to create a world where we are going to be fearful of stepping outside our front doors. The cause isn’t any one religion. the hunger for power and control is. And until all of us realise that respect for fellow human beings is more important than religion, the common man will pay the price. Everywhere.

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      1. I agree with Steve: Well said, Madhu. I think the divisive force have been around much too often during the centuries, and how come we didn’t get rid of it since now is believed to be the modern world? My best wishes for the election and the sacred temples. PS. The cathedral is still used as a church and I am sure it will be for a long, long time.

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  9. PS: The historical value of that cathedral should account for something if not its religious. Selling off of temples would cause riots here!! In fact all our historically appropriated temples are now disputed sites under heavy security.

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  10. I was so shocked that I had to re-read your post, Bente. I feel outraged that such a simple symbol, centuries old, can be banned.

    I imagine every Catholic in Australia wears a cross as a necklace, let alone those that wear crosses as earrings.

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    1. I believe catholics more often use crosses ar symbols. I guess some christians in Norway do too, but it is commonly used as jewelery. I support the view that religious symbols shall not be used by news presenters. What I don’t understand is all that fuss for something that small, and commonly used, and at the same time awarding something that is obviously a religious symbol, and in too many countries and among groups used for oppression. And never seen in Norway before sometime late in the 1980’s.

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  11. This is so different from any post of yours that I’ve seen, Bente. It’s clear that the subject means a lot to you. The situation in the United States is similar, although Norway, which is quite secular, has gone farther along the trajectory that you describe than the United States, which still has a high proportion of churchgoers.

    Here’s an idea. Norway’s reproduction rate is well below the replacement rate of 2.1, so you definitely need immigrants to sustain your society. In recent years many of those immigrants to your country have been Muslim, but that could be balanced with people from elsewhere. For example, you’re probably aware that there’s a high rate of illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico and Central America. If your government made it easy for Mexicans and Central Americans to come to Norway, you could have as many workers as you want. Likewise for people from the Philippines, many of whom are similarly desperate for work. People from the countries I mentioned are overwhelmingly Christian and would balance the influx of Muslims.

    One last comment: I’m always happy when people refer to George Orwell. Over the decades of my life I’ve been impressed and multiply re-impressed to see how prescient he was about so many things.

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  12. The World is a terribly sinful place. That’s why Christ came. To save sinners. Pray for them all that they may receive Him as Lord and Savior. Forgive them for they know not what they do. Thank you Bente Haarstad for your article and your wonderful talent as a photographer.

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  13. I couldn’t have said it better than Mike Howe, where he writes: “All people should have the right, in fact should be encouraged, to express themselves in a civilised and decent society, but also have the right not to have beliefs held by others imposed upon them, particularly if those beliefs encourage violence, hatred and oppression. And I’m afraid that radical Islam comes very much into that category, and all decent, civilised people should stand against it and should not be afraid to do so.”

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  14. Bente, tus ideas y reflexiones han de ser compartidas; este mundo parece que se nos escapa como agua entre los dedos.
    Del estado de cosas y trayctoria, espero nuevo ver y reconducir -sentido y razón- o sencillamente suerte. Con preferencia lo primero, si acompañado de humanidad sana y corespondida.
    Una gran entrada. Un gran saludo.

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  15. This is a very brave blog Bente, all people have the right to where what they want, and not only people from other country’s and religions. Here in the Netherlands the cross is also forbidden to where and even the sign-boards from the butchery’s are forbidden, but not the hijabs and niqabs, the world is crazy Bente and I don’t like this. Respect for all but also for people how lives for many generetions in our own country’s. Thanks for your wise words!

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  16. If their is a god, why would he care whether women covered their heads? Surely this is a stupid man made rule to keep women down. How women wear this willingly astounds me. I wouldn’t wear a cross either, but I don’t have a problem with others wearing one.

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  17. Unfortunately fanatics and activists will always have the loudest voice. Most people take the route of less resistance, the option that does not involve doing anything. I hope that social media will help the voice of reason to be heard more clearly. A good article that I hope inspires people to think. Amelia

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    1. Hey again. I read this as I traveled through the country, and several times a few tears leaked from my eyes. The driver kept looking over at me – she surely thought I was suffering with a personal crisis, but I was affected because of the venom and hate revealed in those screen shots – there’s so much anger and hatred that’s building in this world. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I’ll be sharing this soon…z

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  18. This is all very frightening! Stoning people. Really? I have a friend who made a statement that has stuck with me. He said to me that he does not believe in the theory of evolution because too often he sees it going in reverse. What you write about is a perfect example of going in reverse. Thank you for your post! Be well ^..^

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  19. Bente,

    A very interesting and thought provoking post: it is a strange phenomena this ever increasing denial for ones heritage being found over almost all of Europe. I find it strange when I go back to UK from Oman and find (in many areas) an almost ferocious condemnation of any outward celebration of for example Xmas (even Father Christmas being questioned) don’t mention Easter in some circles……
    Unfortunately there is one sect of Islam that has a lot of money and is very fundamentalist. Even Oman comes under their baleful eye as it is quite liberal – there are at least two Christian churches and a Hindu temple here in Muscat. I see Father Christmas giving out gifts almost every year in either a shopping centre or hotel. There is a general attitude that says it is up to ones conscience how anyone leads their life; certainly no condemnation of peoples religious views. In fact to my knowledge, Christians (People of the Book) have no fear of expressing their religion.
    Then again that has probably a lot to do with an educated society; as for women, H.M the Sultan has been very vocal in reminding Oman that both men & women should be able to contribute without discrimination. This is probably why more women in an average year obtain degrees from university than do men.
    I am certainly not saying there is no fundamentalist attitude here, because that is almost impossible to stop in a free society; but it is not encouraged by any means.
    Ironic really…. When compared to the attitude of some in both our countries: a misplaced desire of the liberal left in needing to appear superior.
    If the latest elections are anything to go by: a very dangerous oversight by government!

    David.

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  20. Oh. I would not suppose such things are happening within our European borders. Thank you for this article. Those double standards are terrible but they are active not only regarding religions. Where are we heading to? Why is Christianity no longer attractive to those who abandon their churches? The “Kingdom of Heaven” movie comes to my mind – isn’t it answering those questions? We need a kingdom of love, care and real engagement, we need honour and passion, we need communities and we desperately need to love one another. I love photos you attached, they are truly impressive – what is the first one showing? – if I may. Thank you for coming over to my site, hope to welcome you again.

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