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Part of a series on the
Islamic Jurisprudence

– a discipline of Islamic studies

Fields

Dhabīḥah (ذَبِيْحَة) is the prescribed method of ritual slaughter of all animals excluding camels, locusts, fish and most sea-life per Islamic law. This method of slaughtering animals consists of a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides but leaving the spinal cord intact. The precise details of the slaughtering method arise largely from Islamic tradition, rather than direct Quranic mandate. It is used to comply with the conditions stated in the Qur'an:

Forbidden for you are carrion, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that which has been slaughtered while proclaiming the name of any other than God, and one killed by strangling, and one killed with blunt weapons, and one which died by falling, and that which was gored by the horns of some animal, and one eaten by a wild beast, except those whom you slaughter; and that which is slaughtered at the altar and that which is distributed by the throwing of arrows [for an omen]; this is an act of sin. – Al-Maidah 5:3

Contents

Slaughtering Process

The slaughtering process referred to as Ḏabīḥah, is regulated by a set rules that assure health of the animal to be slaughtered and conformance to Islamic religious law, which is derived from the Qur'an and Hadith.

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Prerequisites

According to the laws of Ḏabīḥah halal, certain prerequisites must be met before an animal is slaughtered[3]:

  • The animal must not be a forbidden substance as per the Quran.[1]
  • The slaughter itself must be done by a sane (mentally competent) adult Muslim. Some Muslims also consider it acceptable to eat the meat slaughtered by "People of the Book" (Arabic: Ahl al-Kitāb, i.e, Christians and Jews‎) as stated in Surah Al-Maa’idah, Ayat 5. The name/praise of GOD Almighty must be read before sacrificing the animal. Therefore, since Christians do not read anything before slaughtering the animal, their food is not considered halal. (They use to sacrifice the animals while mentioning GOD Almighty's name/praise in the past). Most Sunni Muslims do consider Kosher meat to be Halal, and this has been accepted since the times of Mohammed.

Several other conditions are also stated: the knife's blade should be extremely sharp yet not be sharpened in front of the animal, the animal must not be slaughtered in front of other animals[4], and the animal's eyes and ears must be checked to ensure its health and suitability for slaughter. If it is deemed to be healthy, it is given water to drink (to quench its thirst). The animal should then be stood to face the Qibla [5], and the actual slaughter can begin.

Slaughter

The act of slaughtering itself is preceded by mentioning the name of God. Invoking the name of God at the moment of slaughtering is sometimes interpreted as acknowledgment of God's right over all things. Furthermore, it is an asking of permission to take the life of the animal to be slaughtered, and endows the slaughterer with a sense of gratitude for God's creation, even prior to partaking in the meat of the animal.

Thus, the slaughter itself is preceded by the words "In the name of Allah, Allah is the Greatest (Bismillah, Allahu Akbar).[2] It is not regarded appropriate to use the phrase "Bismillah al Raĥman Al Raĥim" (In the name of God the Beneficent the Merciful) in this situation, because slaughtering is an act of subduement rather than mercy.

According to Islamic tradition, the conventional method used to slaughter the animal involves cutting the large arteries in the neck along with the esophagus and trachea with one swipe of an unserrated blade. Muslims argue it provides a relatively painless death as the animal is immediately brain dead[3], but some veterinary and animal rights groups dispute this claim [4] . It also helps to effectively drain blood from the animal. This is important because the consumption of blood itself is forbidden in Islam. Muslims consider this method of killing the animal to be cleaner and more merciful to the animal.

While the blood is draining, the animal is not handled until it has died.

The cut must be provided with a knife sharp enough to cut through a man's fingers without providing any immediate pain.( Similar knives are used in cutting large amount of Paper in mills.) The slaughter must be done within two and a half swipe ( one forward, one back and one ending in the middle while going forward) and the wound must be as clean as possible. This motion digs through the inner arteries of the animal and mostly prevents bubbling of blood within it. Care has to be taken that the nervous system is in no way damaged, for the dirrect attack on the nervous coil would provide serious pain to the animal before death. If any other method is used or the animal is slaughtered with a dull blade, its meat will not become legal(halal) for consumption. The animal must be brought to the slaughtering place and laid down gently as to not bruise it. The blade must be kept hidden until the very last moment while the jugular of the animal is felt.

Controversies

Animal rights

Critics of Ḏabīḥah halal, most notably some animal rights groups, contend that this method of slaughter 'causes severe suffering to animals' compared to when the animal is stunned before slaughter.

In the United Kingdom, the government funded Farm Animal Welfare Council recommended in June 2003 that conventional Ḏabīḥah (along with Kashrut slaughter) without prior stunning be abolished. The FAWC chairwoman of the time, Dr Judy MacArthur Clark, said 'This is a major incision into the animal and to say that it doesn't suffer is quite ridiculous'. According to Dr Peter Jinman, president of the British Veterinary Association, vets are "looking at what is acceptable in the moral and ethical society we live.[5]

The UK Farm Animal Welfare Council says that the method by which Kosher and Halal meat is produced causes severe suffering to animals and it should be banned immediately. According to FAWC it can take up to two minutes for cattle to bleed to death, thus amounting to animal abuse. Compassion in World Farming also supported the recommendation saying "We believe that the law must be changed to require all animals to be stunned before slaughter."[6][7] The UK government rejected its recommendations.

Various research papers on cattle slaughter collected by Compassion In World Farming mention that "after the throat is cut, large clots can form at the severed ends of the carotid arteries, leading to occlusion of the wound (or “ballooning” as it is known in the slaughtering trade). Nick Cohen wrote in the New Statesman, "Occlusions slow blood loss from the carotids and delay the decline in blood pressure that prevents the suffering brain from blacking out. In one group of calves, 62.5 per cent suffered from ballooning. Even if the slaughterman is a master of his craft and the cut to the neck is clean, blood is carried to the brain by vertebral arteries and it keeps cattle conscious of their pain." [8]

For the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Humane Society International, "the animals that are slaughtered according to Kosher and Halal should be securely restrained, particularly the head and neck, before cutting the throat" as "movements (during slaughter) results in a poor cut, bad bleeding, slow loss of consciousness if at all and pain." [9]

A study done by Professor Wilhelm Schulze et al. at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany, with electrodes surgically implanted on the skull of sheep and calves, concluded that "[t]he slaughter in the form of ritual cut is, if carried out properly, painless in sheep and calves according to the EEG recordings and the missing defensive actions." The results were more favourable towards the ritual slaughter method, for which the "EEG zero line – as a certain sign of the expiration of cerebral cortex activity and according to today’s state of knowledge also of consciousness – occurred generally within considerably less time than during the slaughter method after captive bolt stunning."[10] This study is cited by the German Constitutional Court in its permitting of dhabiha slaughtering.[11] The Muslim Council of Great Britain has argued that, during Ḏabīḥah slaughter, "The brain is instantaneously starved of blood and there is no time to start feeling any pain." [5] Whether or not pain is inflicted in properly carried out slaughterings, the question remain to be answered if pain is inflicted in not properly carried out slaughterings and how many such are being done (depending on level of education and experience of the person making a slaughter.)

Inducing unconsciousness

Electrocution is frowned upon by many Muslims, since it is thought it can cause small blood vessels to rupture into the meat.

Stunning the animal with a bolt-gun, as is the standard practice in FDA-approved slaughtering houses, may cause instantaneous death. Some Muslims regard meat from such a slaughter to be haraam, considering such meat as carrion. In other cases, in some animals with thicker skulls, the bolt-gun has to be administered more than once, causing harm and suffering to the animal, which goes against the dictates of an Islamic slaughter.

It is for these reasons that there are ongoing questions and conversations within the North American Muslim community as to whether meat processed in these slaughter houses meet the standard of 'Halal' (as opposed to Zabiha). At center to this debate is the doubt as to whether this meat could qualify under the Allowed category of the food of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians). The first consideration being that standard slaughtering methods could cause the animal to die in a way other than slaughter (death through exsanguination), and, secondly, given that the actual slaughter may not be performed by a member of any one of the three Abrahamic religions.

Debates still rage among Muslim jurists and the general Muslim population about whether or not stunning, anaesthetics, or other forms of inducing unconsciousness in the animal prior to slaughter are permissible as per Islam. Several halal food authorities have more recently permitted the use of a recently developed fail-safe system of head-only stunning where the shock is less painful and non-fatal, and where it is possible to reverse the procedure and revive the animal after the shock.[12]

Ḏabīḥah in relation to other religions

Followers of some religions are prohibited from consuming meat slaughtered in the fashion described above. The Rehat Maryada of Sikhism states that in Sikhism, "eating the meat of an animal slaughtered the Muslim way;" is strictly prohibited. The Kshatriya of Hinduism also do not consume meat killed by Muslims.

Christianity

Many Muslims conclude that the Christian method of slaughtering of the present age are lacking in Islamic methods and contradict Muslim belief, thus making their meat haraam.

However, Christians in Ethiopia and neighbouring countries still practice ritual slaughter and Muslims from those countries eat meat slaughtered by them.

Judaism

There are many similarities between the laws concerning Ḏabīḥah and kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. The word dhabiha is linguistically similar to the Hebrew term zevach (sacrifice/slaughter).

Muslims are divided as to whether or not Jewish slaughter suffices as a replacement for Islamic dhabiha halal. Some claim that Jewish slaughter leaves out the Takbeer (saying: God is Great) and changes the method of slaughter, thus, their meat is Haraam. Others claim that the slaughtering processes are similar enough in practice and in theory to render animals slaughtered by Jewish laws as halal.

Jeremiah J Berman, in 1941 wrote: "At the present day in most of the Islamic world Moslems purchase Jewish meat, though they will not buy Christian meat. This is true in Istanbul, Bombay, Beirut, Jerusalem and Mogador. Contemporary Moslems in these cities consider Jewish slaughtering as fulfiling all the requirements of their law, while they regard the slaughtering performed by Christians as done in contravention thereof.

In Yemen ... Jewish meat is not acceptable." Berman also reports that Jewish meat slaughtered in Salonica (Thessaloniki) was not acceptable to Muslims. [13]

To be kosher - i.e. fit for consumption by religious Jews, meat must be slaughtered by a Jewish shohet who holds a licence from a rabbi and has been examined on the laws of shehitah. This alone means that halal meat is forbidden to Jews. The requirements for the shape of the knife are more severe, the knife must be free from a single nick and the method of cutting is exactly defined. In addition there is an inspection of the lungs that mammals must pass (bedikah) that muslims do not have. [14]

See also

References

  1. ^ World faiths, Teach yourself - Islam by Ruqaiyyah Maqsood. ISBN 0-340-60901-X. Page 168
  2. ^ It is also common for the words "Praise be upon Him who has made you suitable for slaughter [for the purpose of consumption] ("Subĥâna man Ĥallalaka li ˈl-dhabĥ") to be spoken immediately before slaughter rather than the traditional phrase. This is more of a cultural practice than one based in Hadith
  3. ^ http://www.mustaqim.co.uk/halal.htm
  4. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | Halal and Kosher slaughter 'must end', abattoir : abattages rituels juif et musulman
  5. ^ a b BBC NEWS | UK | Halal and Kosher slaughter 'must end'
  6. ^ BBC: Should Halal and Kosher meat be banned?
  7. ^ BBC: Halal and Kosher slaughter 'must end'
  8. ^ "God’s own chosen meat" - Cohen, Nick. New Statesman, 7/5/2004, Vol. 133 Issue 4695, p22-23, 2p, 1c
  9. ^ Guideline for Humane Handling, Transport and Slaugher of Livestock, Religious or ritual slaughter, [1][2]
  10. ^ Schulze W, Schultze-Petzold H, Hazem AS, Gross R. Experiments for the objectification of pain and consciousness during conventional (captive bolt stunning) and religiously mandated (“ritual cutting”) slaughter procedures for sheep and calves. Deutsche Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 1978 Feb 5;85(2):62-6. English translation by Dr Sahib M. Bleher
  11. ^ Das Bundesverfassungsgericht
  12. ^ Masood Khawaja (6 October 2001). "Definition of Halal". Halal Food Authority. http://www.halalfoodauthority.co.uk/definitionhalal.html. Retrieved 2010-01-12.  
  13. ^ Jeremiah J. Berman Shehitah 1941
  14. ^ Ibid

External links


Part of a series on the
Islamic Jurisprudence

– a discipline of Islamic studies

Fields

Dhabīḥah (Arabic: ذَبِيْحَة‎; Arabic pronunciation: [ðæˈbiːħɑ], or Zabiha) is, in Islamic law, the prescribed method of ritual slaughter of all animals excluding camels, locusts, fish and most sea-life. This method of slaughtering animals consists of a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides but leaving the spinal cord intact. The precise details of the slaughtering method arise largely from Islamic tradition, rather than direct Quranic mandate. It is used to comply with the conditions stated in the Qur'an:

Forbidden for you are carrion, and blood, and flesh of swine, and that which has been slaughtered while proclaiming the name of any other than God, and one killed by strangling, and one killed with blunt weapons, and one which died by falling, and that which was gored by the horns of some animal, and one eaten by a wild beast, except those whom you slaughter; and that which is slaughtered at the altar and that which is distributed by the throwing of arrows [for an omen]; this is an act of sin.

Contents

Slaughtering process

The slaughtering process referred to as Ḏabīḥah, is regulated by a set of rules that assure health of the animal to be slaughtered and conformance to Islamic religious law, which is derived from the Qur'an and Hadith.

Prerequisites

According to the laws of Ḏabīḥah halal, certain prerequisites must be met before an animal is slaughtered [3]:

  • The animal must not be a forbidden substance as per the Quran.[1]
  • The slaughter itself must be done by a sane (mentally competent) adult Muslim. Some Muslims also consider it acceptable to eat the meat slaughtered by "People of the Book" (Arabic: Ahl al-Kitāb, i.e, Christians and Jews‎) as stated in Surah Al-Maa’idah, Ayat 5.
  • Some Muslims believe the name/praise of God Almighty must be read before sacrificing the animal (as opposed to the name of anything other than God). This is a major split amongst Muslims. Those believing the former do not eat food killed by Christians (as the name of God is not read during the killing), even though it is in direct conflict with Surah Al-Maa'idah, Ayat 5.

Several other conditions are also stated: the knife's blade should be extremely sharp yet not be sharpened in front of the animal, the animal must not be slaughtered in front of other animals [4], and the animal's eyes and ears must be checked to ensure its health and suitability for slaughter. If it is deemed to be healthy, it is given water to drink (to quench its thirst). The animal should then be stood to face the Qibla [5], and the actual slaughter can begin.

Slaughter

The act of slaughtering itself is preceded by mentioning the name of God. Invoking the name of God at the moment of slaughtering is sometimes interpreted as acknowledgment of God's right over all things. Furthermore, it is an asking of permission to take the life of the animal to be slaughtered,[dubious ] and endows the slaughterer with a sense of gratitude for God's creation,[dubious ] even prior to partaking in the meat of the animal.[citation needed]

Thus, the slaughter itself is preceded by the words "In the name of Allah (Bismillah). It is not regarded appropriate to use the phrase "Bismillah al Raĥman Al Raĥim" (In the name of God the Beneficent the Merciful) in this situation, because slaughtering is an act of subdual rather than mercy.

According to Islamic tradition, the animal is brought to the place of slaughter and laid down gently so as to not injure it. The blade must be kept hidden until the very last moment while the jugular of the animal is felt. The conventional method used to slaughter the animal involves cutting the large arteries in the neck along with the esophagus and vertebrate trachea with one swipe of an non-serrated blade. Care must be taken that the nervous system is not damaged, as this may cause the animal to die before exsanguination has taken place. While blood is draining, the animal is not handled until it has died. If any other method is used its meat will not be halal.

This method adheres to Islamic law (it ensures the animal does not die by any of the Haraam methods) and helps to effectively drain blood from the animal. This may be important because the consumption of blood itself is forbidden in Islam,[Qur'an 2:173] however it is not clear that bleeding the animal removes all traces of blood from the carcass, so the meat may remain unclean. In fact it is stated by Islamic authorities that it is only necessary to drain 'most' of the blood from the animal [6].

Controversies

Animal welfare

Critics of Ḏabīḥah halal, most notably some animal rights groups, contend that this method of slaughter 'causes severe suffering to animals' compared to when the animal is stunned before slaughter, but no scientific proof has yet to be brought to prove this.[citation needed]

In the United Kingdom, the government funded Farm Animal Welfare Council recommended in June 2003 that conventional Ḏabīḥah (along with Kosher slaughtering) without prior stunning be abolished. The FAWC chairwoman of the time, Dr Judy MacArthur Clark, said 'This is a major incision into the animal and to say that it doesn't suffer is quite ridiculous'. According to Dr Peter Jinman, president of the British Veterinary Association, vets are "looking at what is acceptable in the moral and ethical society we live.[2]

The UK Farm Animal Welfare Council says that the method by which Kosher and Halal meat is produced causes severe suffering to animals and it should be banned immediately. According to FAWC it can take up to two minutes for cattle to bleed to death, thus amounting to animal abuse. Compassion in World Farming also supported the recommendation saying "We believe that the law must be changed to require all animals to be stunned before slaughter."[3][4] The UK government rejected its recommendations as there was no scientific proof to back these claims.[citation needed]

Various research papers on cattle slaughter collected by Compassion In World Farming mention that "after the throat is cut, large clots can form at the severed ends of the carotid arteries, leading to occlusion of the wound (or “ballooning” as it is known in the slaughtering trade). Nick Cohen wrote in the New Statesman, "Occlusions slow blood loss from the carotids and delay the decline in blood pressure that prevents the suffering brain from blacking out. In one group of calves, 62.5 per cent suffered from ballooning. Even if the slaughterer is a master of his craft and the cut to the neck is clean, blood is carried to the brain by vertebral arteries and it keeps cattle conscious of their pain." [5]

For the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Humane Society International, "the animals that are slaughtered according to Kosher and Halal should be securely restrained, particularly the head and neck, before cutting the throat" as "movements (during slaughter) results in a poor cut, bad bleeding, slow loss of consciousness if at all and pain." [6]

A study done by Professor Wilhelm Schulze et al. at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany, with electrodes surgically implanted on the skull of sheep and calves, concluded that "[t]he slaughter in the form of ritual cut is, if carried out properly, painless in sheep and calves according to the EEG recordings and the missing defensive actions." The results were more favourable towards the ritual slaughter method, for which the "EEG zero line – as a certain sign of the expiration of cerebral cortex activity and according to today’s state of knowledge also of consciousness – occurred generally within considerably less time than during the slaughter method after captive bolt stunning."[7] This study is cited by the German Constitutional Court in its permitting of dhabiha slaughtering.[8] The Muslim Council of Great Britain has argued that, during Ḏabīḥah slaughter, "The brain is instantaneously starved of blood and there is no time to start feeling any pain." [2] Whether or not pain is inflicted in properly carried out slaughterings, the question remains to be answered if pain is inflicted when the slaughter is carried out improperly, how many animals are slaughtered improperly, and whether the meat of these improperly-slaughtered animals ought to be considered halal (or kosher as the case may be) in the first place.

Inducing unconsciousness

Electrocution is frowned upon by many Muslims.

Stunning the animal with a bolt-gun, as is the standard practice in FDA-approved slaughtering houses, may cause instantaneous death.[9] All Muslims regard meat from such a slaughter to be haraam, considering such meat as carrion,[10] the remains of dead animals. In other cases, in some animals with thicker skulls, the bolt-gun has to be administered more than once,[11] causing harm and suffering to the animal, which goes against the dictates of an Islamic slaughter.

It is for these reasons that there are ongoing questions and conversations within the North American Muslim community as to whether meat processed in these slaughter houses meet the standard of 'Halal' (as opposed to Ḏabīḥah). At center of this debate is the doubt as to whether this meat could qualify under the Allowed category of the food of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians). The first consideration being that standard slaughtering methods could cause the animal to die in a way other than slaughter (death through exsanguination), and, secondly, given that the actual slaughter may not be performed by a member of any one of the three Abrahamic religions.

Debates still rage among Muslim jurists and the general Muslim population about whether or not stunning, anaesthetics, or other forms of inducing unconsciousness in the animal prior to slaughter are permissible as per Islam. Several halal food authorities have more recently permitted the use of a recently developed fail-safe system of head-only stunning where the shock is less painful and non-fatal, and where it is possible to reverse the procedure and revive the animal after the shock.[12]

Ḏabīḥah in relation to other religions

Followers of some religions are prohibited from consuming meat slaughtered in the fashion described above. The Rehat Maryada of Sikhism states that in Sikhism, "consumption of any meat killed in an ritualistic manner" is strictly prohibited therefore prohibiting both halal and kosher meat. The Kshatriya of Hinduism are prohibited from consuming meat killed by Muslims.

Non religious methods of slaughter

Many Muslims conclude that non-religious methods of slaughtering practised in many parts of the world contradict Muslim belief, making the meat haraam.[citation needed]

Christianity

Christians in Ethiopia and neighbouring countries still practice ritual slaughter and Muslims from those countries eat meat slaughtered by them.[citation needed]

Judaism

There are many similarities between the laws concerning Ḏabīḥah and kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. The word dhabiha is linguistically similar to the Hebrew term zevach (sacrifice/slaughter).

Muslims are divided as to whether or not Jewish slaughter suffices as a replacement for Islamic dhabiha halal. Some claim that Jewish slaughter leaves out the Takbeer (saying: God is Great) and changes the method of slaughter, thus, their meat is Haraam. Others claim that the slaughtering processes are similar enough in practice and in theory to render animals slaughtered by Jewish laws as halal.

Jeremiah J Berman, in 1941 wrote: "At the present day in most of the Islamic world Moslems purchase Jewish meat, though they will not buy Christian meat. This is true in Istanbul, Beirut, Jerusalem and Mogador. Contemporary Muslims in these cities consider Jewish slaughtering as fulfilling all the requirements of their law, while they regard the slaughtering performed by Christians as done in contravention thereof. In Yemen ... Jewish meat is not acceptable." Berman also reports that Jewish meat slaughtered in Salonica (Thessaloniki) was not acceptable to Muslims.[13]

To be kosher, i.e. fit for consumption by religious Jews, meat must be slaughtered by a Jewish shohet who holds a licence from a rabbi and has been examined on the laws of shehitah. This alone means that halal meat is forbidden to Jews. The requirements for the shape of the knife are more severe, the knife must be free from a single nick and the method of cutting is exactly defined. In addition there is an inspection of the lungs that mammals must pass (bedikah) that Muslims do not have.[14]

See also

References

  1. ^ World faiths, Teach yourself - Islam by Ruqaiyyah Maqsood. ISBN 0-340-60901-X. Page 168
  2. ^ a b "Halal and Kosher slaughter 'must end'". BBC News. 10 June 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2977086.stm. Retrieved 1 May 2010. 
  3. ^ BBC: Should Halal and Kosher meat be banned?
  4. ^ BBC: Halal and Kosher slaughter 'must end'
  5. ^ "God’s own chosen meat" - Cohen, Nick. New Statesman, 7/5/2004, Vol. 133 Issue 4695, p22-23, 2p, 1c
  6. ^ Guideline for Humane Handling, Transport and Slaughter of Livestock, Religious or ritual slaughter, [1][2]
  7. ^ Schulze W, Schultze-Petzold H, Hazem AS, Gross R. Experiments for the objectification of pain and consciousness during conventional (captive bolt stunning) and religiously mandated (“ritual cutting”) slaughter procedures for sheep and calves. Deutsche Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 1978 Feb 5;85(2):62-6. English translation by Dr Sahib M. Bleher
  8. ^ Das Bundesverfassungsgericht
  9. ^ http://www.hedweb.com/hillman/animpain.htm
  10. ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrion
  11. ^ http://www.grandin.com/humane/captive.bolt.html
  12. ^ Masood Khawaja (6 October 2001). "Definition of Halal". Halal Food Authority. http://www.halalfoodauthority.co.uk/definitionhalal.html. Retrieved 2010-01-12. 
  13. ^ Jeremiah J. Berman, Shehitah (1941)
  14. ^ Ibid

External links


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