What Did the Imam Really Say?

You probably know that, during the prayer for peace event in the garden’s behind St. Peter’s basilica, held by Pope Francis with the leaders of Israel, Palestinians and also the Ecumenical Patriarch, one of the invited guests, an Imam, reportedly prayed for Allah to grant victory over infidels.

“No, he didn’t!”, say some.  “Yes, he did!”, say others.

I read at Gates of Vienna:

In his own words in the end he asked god to assist those in the state of weakness. He said intasar al mustaDaafin fil ArD ya rab al alamin wa salam ala mursalin… , which means assist people in the state of weakness in the land oh Lord of the worlds and peace be upon messengers.

I searched the phrase “intasar al mustaDaafin” or “assist people in the state of weakness” and found that Muslim Arabs use it often in their prayer for either Palestinians or Mujahidin who are fighting against “oppressors”. Possibly the Imam’s intention was precisely that, but he did not literally ask Allah to assist Muslims over non-believers.

However, a commentator says:

Without a shadow of a doubt [that] means make us VICTORIOUS over the Kaferin or unbelievers or deniers! Please don’t try to create clouds and doubts where there are non. It is not ambiguous at all.

Here is the translation from quran.com: “You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” sura 2 aya 286

It is asking Allah to give the Muslims victory in WARS that they had against pagan Arabs. This is the context.

There is a video of the Imam:


Some are saying that the controversial line was cut from the video.  I dunno.

However, again, a commentator wrote:

I do understand Quranic Arabic very well. I also know Quran itself rather well. I am an ex- muslim. This link that you have posted is cut! The full recitation of Quran by this imam that I watched on Al Arabiya chanal two days ago had his recitation till the last verses and without a shadow of a doubt he recited the 2nd sura Al Bagharah’s last few verses till the very end where he does recite ” And pardon us and forgive us and have mercy on us, you are our guardian, so make us victorious over the tribe of disbelievers ( or deniers as the word Kafir really means)”.

Now the question is who chopped this link to take out the controversial part out of it. It is cut literally in the middle of the verse where the controversial part starts and jumps to the imam’s prayer in his own words which are not controvercial. [I think around 2:24] You can recognize the end of recitation and beginning of his own prayer by the fact that he stopped singing and start speaking normally. If you pay attention you will notice that the place was cut. It is noticeable. They kept his recitation until the end of the of ” forgive us and have mercy on us.” But the last two sentences ” you are our guardian, so grant us victory over unbelievers” was neatly in very stalinesque fashion airbrushed out! Cunning bastards! That is why your Russian translator didn’t hear anything controversial. But he can go check his Quran and see that up till the last two sentences which are missing everything before it is sura2 last verses. Now you want to tell me he just left out the last half verse from his recitation?! Of course not! They are counting on people’s ignorance of Arabic and quraniccontent

I don’t know Arabic.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Lynn Diane says:

    Christian and Jews are not kafirs or nonbelievers. They believe in the one true God so, according to the Koran, they are “People of the Book.” St. John Paul II hosted a concert for those who trace their religions to Abraham so there was a Jewish conductor, a Moslem orchestra and a Catholic choir.

  2. Joe in Canada says:

    I don’ t know Arabic either but the word Kefir does not appear in the passage quoted.

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    I am still holding out hope that the story that the imam said that isn’t true. Truly sad if this happened.

    A Google search shows there is no consensus among Muslims as to whether Christians and Jews are to be considered kufar (the plural of kafir). The term is definitely derogatory. The more radical Muslims seem to usually consider Christians and Jews kufar; they make distinctions of different kinds of kufar, whether actual nonbelievers in God or those ungrateful for God’s purported revelations through Muhammed etc. Sometimes a Muslim who is considered to reject aspects of Islam is considered a kafir. It is common for moderates to say Christians and Jews are not kufar; some more extreme Muslims consider those moderate Muslims kufar for having that opinion. I do not know much about Islam but this is what I have gathered via Google.

  4. acardnal says:

    Elizabeth, if you haven’t read any of Robert Spencer’s (an Eastern Rite Catholic) books on Islam, please do.

  5. Chon says:

    Elizabeth, please also spend some time on Robert Spencer’s website, JihadWatch.

  6. Elizabeth D says:

    I am familiar with Robert Spencer and his valuable work.

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    It’s very unfortunate and unnerving. Nothing can be done about it now, but I hope this is not repeated. The Vatican is our sacred space.

  8. Priam1184 says:

    Scare story. Get over it.

  9. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In all the history of Muslim incursions into and presence in Italy from 827 to 1537, is this indeed (as the German YouTube title states) the first time the Koran was recited by a Muslim in the Vatican?

  10. Maria says:

    I miss PEBXVI.

  11. Priam1184 says:

    I think that every Catholic should take it for granted that every Muslim worth his salt, especially the ISIS types, would love to conquer Rome and turn St. Peter’s Basilica into a mosque like Mehmet II did to the Hagia Sophia half a millennium ago now. No matter what any imam says or doesn’t say this is the truth. The Catholic Church has been the greatest enemy to Islam and her only obstacle to world domination since the inception of that anti-Trinitarian heresy fourteen centuries ago and they want to destroy her. We need to take this for granted, our leaders need to take this for granted, and we need to PRAY FOR THEIR CONVERSION. The fathers of the fathers of the fathers of these people were Catholics, and we need to pray for their conversion back to the one true Faith of their ancestors.

  12. Gil Garza says:

    According to the Tafsir Ibn Kathir, which is the most renowned and accepted explanation of the Qur’an (“free from unauthentic Hadiths”), the meaning of ‘And give us victory over the disbelieving people’ is: those who rejected Your religion, denied Your Oneness, refused the Message of Your Prophet (PBUH), worshipped other than You and associated others in Your worship. Give us victory and make us prevail above them in this and the Hereafter.

    The meaning and the context of the last two Ayat of Surat Al-Baqarah is clearly victory over Jews and Christians.

  13. Martlet says:

    Don’t we pray for the defeat of unbelievers? I know I do, especially when they are legislating. Defeat doesn’t always mean by military conquest. As for ISIS types, they kill Muslims too. And “every Muslim worth his salt”??? Tell that to my Persian friends or to my husband’s Muslim cousins living in S. France. The wife of one of them shares many of my faith-related FB posts with her own family, in N. Africa.

  14. jacobi says:

    Whatever the Imam said, it is high time that we Catholics took an good look at Islam.

    Their objective is to establish the Caliphate, by whatever means are appropriate. The option exists, after conquest, of toleration under the Dhimmi, which entails paying a tax and accepting the absolute authority of the Caliphate.

    Now Muslims are like the rest of us and vary from fanaticism at one extreme to liaisez faire at the other. But the above is their objective and they will all work in their own way towards it.

    Islam has assaulted Christianity constantly throughout the centuries. The original conquest of
    Post-Roman Middle East, Egypt and N Africa, the conquest of Spain and S Europe, turned back by Charlemagne. The long Spanish fight back . Further assaults on Malta and Vienna, turned back by La Valette and Sobiesky.

    The latest attack is by infiltration and emigration. In terms of numbers in W Europe, it is the most successful yet. Muslims are now estimated at 44 million, 6% of the W Europe population excluding Turkey. (Pew Forum, for 2011.) and expanding rapidly. Intimidation is one of their weapons and the number of “trainees “ in the current Middle East conflicts is causing the security services much concern.

  15. Eugene says:

    I am one who is normally troubled by multi faith prayer services. It seems to put our faith on par with others, when clearly if we truly believe what our faith teaches it is not. I have red statements from the Vatican in past saying something like we are all searching for the truth. I thought our faith had the Truth. Do we not believe in Him who said “I am the way, the truth and the life”. What more do we need?
    I am all for treating non Christians for dignity and respect but please le us keep our religious practices separate.
    One last point peace will never happen until or if the entire world is converted to believe in Him who is the Prince of Peace.

  16. Johnno says:

    “We need to take this for granted, our leaders need to take this for granted, and we need to PRAY FOR THEIR CONVERSION.”

    You should let Pope Francis know that. He told them to hang on to their Korans. Why conquer St. Peter’s when we can just let them in the front gates?

    We need to defeat the Islamic infidels too. Hopefully Pope Francis can take a page from the Imam here. If there’s one thing to learn from all this ecumenism, it’s that we ought to be more militant too and just as cunning as our opponents. Imagine their reaction if we prayed at the gates of any mosque for Christ to overcome them. We should likewise be just as defensive. Elijah would’ve called them out to demonstrate whose God was real. Sadly we don’t have men with the stuff of Elijah anymore. But we could’ve at least used the prudence of the pre-VII Popes.

  17. Netmilsmom says:

    Until the film from Al Arabiya comes out, and I’m sure that one will be able to find this on YouTube, I’m reserving judgment.
    However, please pray for the Chaldeans in Mosul.

  18. Kathleen10 says:

    Priam, I agree with you completely. I think many people do not understand at all the situation as it really is today as it pertains to islam and that is part of the problem. They fail to appreciate the history and the reality. People should read Robert Spencer’s materials and consider. Christians are in peril in the middle east and at some point, everywhere else. They may have some friends in high places.

  19. Kathleen10 says:

    “They” meaning islamists.

  20. tcreek says:

    1929 prophecy

    SURVIVALS AND NEW ARRIVALS: The Old and New Enemies of the Catholic Church by Hilaire Belloc, 1929


    “… The inter-communion between the new Paganism of Europeans and the very ancient Paganism of other races is as yet only faintly sketched out; but it is advancing. I cannot but believe that in another generation it will be powerful, apparent to all.”

    “There remains, apart from the old Paganism of Asia and Africa, another indirect supporter of Neo-Paganism: a supporter which indeed hates all Paganism but hates the Catholic Church much more: a factor of whose now increasing importance the masses of Europe are not as yet aware: I mean the Mahommedan religion: Islam.”

    …. “our generation came to think of Islam as something naturally subject to ourselves. We no longer regarded it as a rival to our own culture, we thought of its religion as a sort of fossilized thing about which we need not trouble.”

    “That was almost certainly a mistake. We shall almost certainly have to reckon with Islam in the near future. Perhaps if we lose our faith it will rise.”

    “Remember that our Christian civilization is in peril of complete breakdown. An enemy would say that it is living upon its past; and certainly those who steadfastly hold its ancient Catholic doctrine stand on guard as it were in a state of siege; they are a minority both in power and in numbers. …
    The book is at Amazon and on the Internet Archive where it can be downloaded free for e-readers or the text is here -http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/SURVIV.HTM

  21. kimberley jean says:

    Everyone is so afraid of Islam that we twist and turn to avoid unpleasant thoughts like worms on a hot sidewalk.

  22. SKAY says:

    Kathleen10 said

    “Christians are in peril in the middle east and at some point, everywhere else. They may have some friends in high places.”

    I agree and they obviously know it.

    Consider the young Christian mother of two in Sudan who has been sentenced to death by the Muslims just for being Christian and she has said that she will not renounce her faith. She is married to an American who is a Christian. Her children are Americans because of their father’s citizenship. Many are hoping that the US is working behind the scenes but her husband has said that he has not heard a word from this administration.
    Are the moderate Muslims speaking up and loudly condemning this? Where is the UN?
    How about the Imam who spoke at the Vatican? Maybe the media is not covering it but I think I hear crickets.

    Rep Tom Cotton(R) has filed a bill–HR 4821 to allow her to legally immigrate to this country.
    It remains to be seen if it is passed–will the Senate under Harry Reid even take it up. and will Obama sign it? Of course she would have to be released by the Muslims who have this “dangerous” person in chains.


    I am calling my Rep. and asking him to vote for this bill. Will the Dem. Rep. who is a Muslim vote for it? She is a brave woman and her life is truly in danger.

  23. Priam1184 says:

    @SKAY Didn’t the government of Sudan end up releasing that woman?

    @Johnno Yes of course we need to defend ourselves against Islam. We cannot do it with guns and bombs if for no other reason than the West is no longer a unified culture moving in the same direction. It cannot focus its attention long enough. And hey I think that it is a dumb idea to invite an imam to pray in the Vatican as well, but this current generation of the hierarchy (B16 included) is so in love with false and phony ecumenism and ‘dialogue’ and the denial by silence of the Catholic Church’s true role in the world that I don’t look for anything to come from them. It must start from the bottom up and it must start with prayer. We must defend ourselves from the idea of Islam, but WE ABSOLUTELY MUST PRAY FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE MUSLIM PEOPLE. It is our duty and we are commanded to do so. When our Lord commanded us to go and preach the Gospel to all nations he did not exclude those who hate us and wish for our destruction from that command. And, as the life of our Lord itself shows us, it all starts with prayer.

  24. aviva meriam says:

    @ Priam: no the Government of Sudan would LIKE to release this woman so the public outcry will end, but the judiciary has yet to release her.

    The US citizen father has tried to register his marriage so as to register his children as US citizens, in an attempt to get them OUT of that prison where his wife (their mother) is currently being held. The state department has refused to process the paperwork, and when questioned by the media, has played dumb.

    I think we need to remember that Islam (like Orthodox Judaism) is a legalistic structure that does not have one authority figure on earth to define the faith. That means there may be some who take the more moderate view, and many others who take the more literal (and violent view).

  25. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    aviva meriam writes, ” no the Government of Sudan would LIKE to release this woman”, Meriam Ibrahim – alas, even that is not clearly so!

  26. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    priam 1184 wrote, ” The fathers of the fathers of the fathers of these people were Catholics” – a complexly, partially true statement: clearly, with reference to all the conquered Christians who submitted; further, according to the Armenian History attributed to Bishop Sebeos (finished c. AD 661), which includes the oldest written account of Mohammed (‘Mehmet’), the earliest of those later called ‘Muslims’ were Ishmaelites who were recalled from polytheism to the worship of the God of Abraham, Israel, Moses (et al.) – though I do not know which, if any, modern scholars accept this interpretation; the actual historical mix presumably includes not only Jews and other descendents of Abraham, but various pagans who were immemoriably pagan.

  27. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    My apologies: “immemorially”!

  28. Robbie says:

    I found the whole episode, regardless of what the imam did or didn’t say, to be disturbing. The goal of the event was a worthy one, but the Pope is not just one of many religious leaders. He is the successor of Peter, the man God commanded to build his Church. Sorry if I’ve offended anyone, but I’m not a fan of ecumenical gatherings.

  29. SKAY says:

    aviva meriam said–
    “The US citizen father has tried to register his marriage so as to register his children as US citizens, in an attempt to get them OUT of that prison where his wife (their mother) is currently being held. The state department has refused to process the paperwork, and when questioned by the media, has played dumb. ”

    Sad to say–that speaks volumes about where this administration stands on this issue.
    All the more reason for HR 4821 to be passed.

    I agree Priam–prayer is always the most important thing.

    M. ZUHDI JASSER, M.D is considered a moderate. He is one of the very few that I might agree is
    moderate. He never seems to be playing the word games that the rest who are interviewed are trying to play. It is so clear and frankly despicable what they are doing.

  30. Moro says:

    A prayer for the conversion of the muslims is a liturgical change I would welcome whole heartedly.

  31. Kathleen10 says:

    My view at this point would be considered extreme. It will not happen unless something extremely dire occurs, but, never say never. I would want to limit entry to this country. The biggest potential problem is a takeover by infiltration and it is already happening.
    I no longer have people in categories such as “moderate” or “extreme”. There is one category. We need to wake up.

  32. aviva meriam says:

    Had a series of extremely upsetting email exchanges with a member of the PC USA on their “peace-making efforts” in the Middle East. The degree of naïveté, and willful stupidity on the fundamental belief systems that motivate within the Middle East is staggering…..

    I believe Pope Francis genuinely wanted to do the right thing. However I don’t think the Iman could say anything other than what he did in fact say (not the edited version presented after the fact).

    Isn’t it past time for us to take people at face value when they discuss their beliefs, especially amongst themselves? Beliefs create values and motivate actions. They matter.

  33. Nan says:

    According to the Sudan, the woman is Muslim and Muslim women aren’t allowed to marry outside of their faith; similarly, the father can’t have custody of his Muslim children. Muslims consider everyone to be Muslim at birth and those who end up Christian or belonging to other faiths do so only because their parents are in error.

    There isn’t any such thing as a moderate Muslim. Whether they make a point of it or not, their goal is to kill or convert all. That’s why you don’t hear the so-called “moderate” muslims protesting muslim kidnapping of Christian girls and see them celebrate 911 and the recent kidnapping of three young jews.

  34. marcelus says:

    Maria says:
    13 June 2014 at 10:31 pm
    I miss PEBXVI.

    Maria : Why exactly? do not forget Benedict, I assume you bring this up related to the Islam issue, wound up apologizing to the muslim to put it lightly.


    CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy — Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he was “deeply sorry” about the angry reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, which he said came from a text that didn’t reflect his personal opinion.
    “These (words) were in fact a quotation from a Medieval text which do not in any way express my personal thought,” Benedict told pilgrims at his summer palace outside Rome.
    The pope sparked the controversy when, in a speech Tuesday to university professors during a pilgrimage to his native Germany, he cited the words of a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s founder, as “evil and inhuman.”
    “At this time I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims,” the pope said Sunday”

    St. JP2 was te first Pope to enter a mosque and also kissed the koran.

    Our relationship with the muslim has not been handled accurately to say the least unfortunately.

  35. Maria says:

    Dear marcelus says:
    14 June 2014 at 11:55 pm

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    I know the speech and the consequence of that speech which causes riot in other countries. But did you read (I can not site the source) that after some thought, Muslim scholars thank him on that? Did you know that sometime in his pontificate he suspended the dialogue (I think I heard it Robert Spencer but I am not sure) with Muslims? Did you know that he did not attend the first prayer at Assisi with St PJPII? Did you know that he change the set-up when it was time for him to have the Assisi event – no communal prayers? Sorry if I can’t site where I read and heard.

    I do not mind dialogue for us to understand other cultures as a sign of respect but just like Eugene (14 June 2014 at 4:16 am), I have a hard time understanding the ecumenical prayers and even the efficacy of prayers because Muslims does not believe in the God we know who alone can bestow the grace of peace. The Jews too does not believe Jesus as the Messiah.

    I do respect our popes’ (PJPII to current) gesture to reach out but the praying portion, I hope I will understand this somehow someday. I brought up my apprehension to a priest. His response was “You are right: even if anyone can be listened by God (Ac 10.35), isn’t it that such events lead people to minimize the necessity of conversion to Christ, or that peace on earth is more important than to believe in Christ?” and directed me to read Mortalium Aninos of PPXI.

    I strongly believe that there will never be peace until everyone is deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, Sun of justice and God of peace.

    A day after the prayer event, Muslim extremist attacked Iraq and Chaldean Catholics fled and churches torched. From Mortalium Animos, I keep thinking about this: “But some are more easily deceived by the outward appearance of good when there is question of fostering unity among all Christians.”

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    God bless,

  36. SKAY says:

    It seems clear to me that the Palestinian Muslims talk out of both sides of their mouths when they talk about “peace”. Their definition is quite different than ours and they have no intention of changing. Of course they will sit and talk forever–while still using terrorism to achieve their goals. Will the Imam that prayed at the Vatican work to help free these teens?

    ” Israeli military identified the teens as Naftali Frenkel, 16, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19. Frenkel is a US citizen.”

  37. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    On the occasion, the Holy Father said, “Peacemaking calls for courage, […] yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.”

    In the La Vanguardia interview he is reputed to have said, “It was not at all a political act – I felt that from the beginning”. Did he not listen to, or fail to understand, what (for example) Mahmoud Abbas said (and is he ignnorant of what he has said and done for years)?

    Therein, he is also reputed to have said, “I know a lot about persecutions but it doesn’t seem prudent to talk about them here so I don’t offend anyone. But in some places it is prohibited to have a Bible or teach the catechism or wear a cross… ”

    Prudence trumps open sincerity, without having anything to do with duplicity?

    But he is further reputed to have said, ” The three religions, we have our fundamentalist groups, small in relation to all the rest.”

    And, in answer to the question, “How do you see anti-Semitism?”, he is reputed to have said, “I cannot explain why it happens, but I think it is very linked, in general, and without it being a fixed rule, to the right wing. Antisemitism usually nests better in right-wing political tendencies that in the left, right? And it still continues (like this). We even have those who deny the holocaust, which is crazy.”

    Is he really more ignorant of the murderous history of very widespread “left” and Muslim anti-semitism (emphatically continuing today) than many a high-school, or even grade-school, student? Are these depths of sincere, and breath-taking, ignorance on display?

    (No rhetorical questions: what is the real situation?)

  38. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    priam 1184 wrote, ” The fathers of the fathers of the fathers of these people were Catholics” : is this, among other things, alluding to the video released by the Al-Hayat media center of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (= ISIS), posted internet on 2 June 2014 and its including, “Break the crosses and destroy the lineage of the grandsons of monkeys”?

  39. John H. Graney says:

    The Imam starts out with the traditional invocation, “I take refuge with God from the outcast Satan. In the name of God, the beneficent, the merciful.” (I know that some people might not like seeing Allah translated God. Knowing that Muslims intend to refer to the Creator, I translate Allah as God.) He then recites Al-Baqarah (Surah 2) verses 284-286. However, there are things missing, clearly because of editing. Muslims don’t start reciting the Quran in the middle of words! All of 284 is present. 285 is missing the first 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 words. (The difference of one word depends upon whether or not you consider a prefixed preposition its own word.) It has 11 words (if you don’t count affixed things as their own words) and the rest of the verse is missing. (These are long “verses,” by the way.) 286 is missing the first 10 1/2ish words, has the next 9 words, is missing the following 20 words, has the next 10 words, and is missing the final 4 words.
    I hope that’s exhaustive enough! Most of what is missing is not particularly controversial or anti-Christian. My guess is that whoever edited it didn’t understand Arabic and edited it so that he and others wouldn’t have to listen to as much nasally gibberish. (Quranic Arabic is especially nasally.) That being said , the final four words were, “so grant us victory over the heathen people.” (That’s my own translation.) I doubt that that phrase was edited out because of its meaning. However, I’m certain that the Imam did actually recite a Quranic passage ending in “so grant us victory over the heathen people” at an ecumenical prayer gathering. Maybe the Imam has an odd sense of humor!
    The word that I translate “heathen” is “kaafir”–actually “kaafireen” here, plural. (This seems to be a plural adjective describing a singular noun. Something similar happens in British English when they say things like, “the team are going home.” Yes, it’s insane.)
    Regarding whether or not we Christians are kaafireen, or kuffaar (in Arabic, there are multiple plurals for “infidel!” It’s an important word that they use all the time, so they need lots of options!), of course we are. “Kaafir” taken apart etymologically means denier. (It’s used like the equivalent of the English words “heathen” or “infidel” though.) We deny the inspiration of the Quran and the prophet-hood of the Prophet, so we have to be deniers and infidels. I believe that that is the opinion of most Muslims.
    I have one other comment, too. We all are already well aware of the many wicked deeds that people from That Place and having That Religion have done lately. We do not need to excite ourselves too much pondering those deeds. My heathen friends already dislike Islam a lot, perhaps even more than I do, though publicly, they look down on what they consider to be ignorant Islamophobia. I personally fear some manner of purge or persecution of Muslims in the United States, whether formal or informal, which will punish Muslims guilty of supporting terrorism justly, and others innocent of such unjustly. I think that this will come primarily from people who are not particularly pious or orthodox. (It is easiest to be tolerant of Islam when you view it as it actually is: a false _religion_. Otherwise, people begin to think of Muslims as somehow ontologically evil, instead of just thinking of them as people with false beliefs and no sacraments whom the devil leads about into all sorts of mischief, having found them unprotected.) The best thing, I think, is to pray for the conversion of the heathen people to Christ, and to learn to love your enemies, even those who are thieves and murderers.

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