Category Archives: Muslims


BLOG 561

April 11, 2022


Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.


Death is no stranger in the Middle Eastern world. This past week’s attacks in Tel Aviv by a terrorist underlines the fact. However, we have not heard much recently from Egypt where riots and fighting grabbed the headlines not so long ago. Sadly, another killing just occurred.

Sectarian violence is not uncommon in Egypt, where an Orthodox Christian minority, the Copts, is believed to be among the world’s oldest Christian communities. According to Christian tradition, the Apostle Mark founded the first church sometime around 42 BCE.  Coptic Christianity is one of the five oldest Christian churches in the world including the Roman Catholic Church, Church of Athens (Eastern Orthodox Church), Church of Jerusalem, and Church of Antioch. … Copts count their leader as the first of their chain of 118 leaders called popes.

A knife-wielding man mortally wounded a Coptic priest in an attack at a popular seaside promenade in the northern city of Alexandria on Thursday evening, Egypt’s interior ministry said. The ministry reported the priest died while being treated for his wounds. It said the suspected attacker had been arrested.

The priest was identified by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria as Arsanious Wadid, 56. It said he had served at a local parish.

Christians make up more than 10% of Egypt’s mostly Muslim population. Violence between communities occasionally erupts, mainly in rural communities in the south. Islamic extremists have also targeted Christians in the past. Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyeb, who heads Egypt’s Al-Azhar,  the highest institution of Sunni Islam in the Muslim world, condemned the attack, warning that such acts “might instigate religious wars.”

Through out the centuries but particularly in recent decades, the Copts have paid a high price for their faith. Radical Muslims attacked churches and killed many people. A sad, sad commentary on the status of religion in the Middle East.

Further to the East in another hot spot. Tension between the West and Iran continues.  The IRGC  (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp) has become the center of an ongoing debate between Iran and the US as part of the negotiations for restoring the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Tehran has demanded that the IRGC be removed from the US Foreign Terrorist Organizations list as a condition for restoring the 2015 agreement, going as far as threatening to risk negotiations as a whole.

The US has indicated that it will not be persuaded by the Iranian demand, with The Washington Post on Saturday citing a US official who said that the Biden administration will not remove the IRGC from its terror list even if it proves to be a dealbreaker for the revival of the nuclear agreement.

That’s the latest from a war-torn region. Throw in the attack on the Ukraine by a brutal Russian army and you have enough to make you ill for a long time!

Readers of my Wise on the Middle East blog will be fascinated by my latest book MIRACLES NEVER CEASE!


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BLOG 477
June 29, 2020



Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


Recently, I read an article in the June 3, 2020, The Jerusalem Report that gave me pause to reflect. Neville Teller is a Middle East correspondent for Eurasia Review and author of The Chaos in the Middle East. In other words, he knows what he is talking about.

Teller’s article is concerned with the fact that world leaders aren’t paying enough attention to the hard facts about Iran. Thinking that some sort of nuclear agreement will bring them around to a more reasonable point of view (Teller says) is naïve and could be fatal. Iran has not changed its basic philosophy and intent since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Leader Ayatollah Khomeini wrote, “We have to wage war until all disobedience of Islamic law ceases.” He means the destruction of Western style democracy and your way of life.

Iran has not swerved one hair from that beginning intention.

I have good friends who are immigrants from Iran. Often, they call themselves Persians to avoid ill will. They are good people and to be respected. I am not writing about them but the hard core Islamic leaders that continue to dominate Iran.

Teller maintains that no one took seriously Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf thinking “he doesn’t mean it.” If they had listened, War World II might never have happened. Now is the time to listen to the Ayatollah. He wrote, ”We shall export our revolution to the whole world until they cry ‘There is no god but Allah.’ Until it resounds over the whole world, there will be a struggle.’

Doesn’t exactly sound like ‘ God is love.’

Pursuit of such a fundamental objective for religious warfare involves using proxy militant bodies in a succession of terror, mayhem and murder aimed not only at the West, but also at Shi’te Muslims as well. In other words, if the other wing of the Muslim faith doesn’t buckle, kill ‘em too!

Teller’s point is that Iran means what they profess.

What direction is their country following? Khomeini said, “We wish to cause the corrupt roots of Zionism, Capitalism, and Communism to wither throughout the world.  We wish, as does God almighty to destroy the systems … and promote the Islamic order of the Prophet.”

The bottom line is they’ve got their gun sights aimed at your backyard. Is Neville Teller correct? I’m afraid so.

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BLOG 461
February 24, 2020

free Gaza


Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


Last week I made an initial examination of the Peace Plan for the Middle East that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, submitted to the Palestinians and Israelis. Here’s some additional update insights.

Tovah Lazaroff writes for The International Jerusalem Post. His analysis offers us further details. The Trump Plan totally dismisses the l967 line and offers the Palestinians less territory than any previous plan. On the other hand, the plan does not offer what the right-wing elements in Israel want and the settlers what they feel they need.

Settlers remain concerned for the fate of 15 isolated Jewish settlements that they believe Trump’s plan would ultimately leave doomed. They view his guidelines as making it untenable for residents to continue to live there.

Israeli elements do not want the creation of any Palestinians state in the West Bank in any form. They had hoped the Trump Plan would recognize their concerns. While Trump has pontificated about what eventually might be offered, initially nothing is on the table.

The Trump Plan suggests that people of every faith should be able to pray on the Temple Mount. (Called Haram al-Sharif by Muslims). In the past, Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount has been a flash point for violence. Muslims claim allowing such could start a religious war.

Trump’s Plan would leave Israel in control of security from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) would not leave the West Bank. At the same time, the plan does not include immediate recognition of a Palestinian state. Rather, it recognizes Israel’s willingness to accept a pathway to statehood based on specific territory that makes up about 70% of Judea and Samaria. A Palestinian state would come four-years after the Palestinians recognize the plan. They must also recognize Israel’s right to exist.

The bottom line? Dead on arrival. The Trump Plan is far too favorable to Israel. Makes sense to many in America, but not to Palestinians in the West Bank. It is hard not to believe this wasn’t clear when Kushner developed the plan. Many are concluding that the plan has more to do with politics than peace.

Will it finally be accepted? Not by the Palestinians.

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Filed under America, Gaza, Israel, Jordan, Muslims, Palestinians, The Middle East, Trump


BLOG 412 December 3, 2018December 3, 2018

WISE ON THE MIDDLE EAST Each week Robert L. Wise, PhD, explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.

The recent outbreak of hostility from and toward Gaza raises a question that Westerners have a hard time understanding. After 70 years of off-and-on warfare, why can’t the Israelis and the Palestinians reach a peace settlement? Ending hostilities would be profitable for both sides. While the answer is actually obvious, it remains an enigma in the West.

American presidents come alone every so many years and think they can quickly bring an end to the struggle. Bill Clinton thought he had it in the bag and then Yasser Arafat walked out. The latest bravo came from Donald Trump who said it shouldn’t be difficult to settle. Was he ever diluted!

They all failed to recognize the obvious. Muslim and Arab countries don’t base their decision on democratic standards and ideals. There are no secular Arab states. The suggestion of a separation of church and state would be considered nonsense in their world. The one marginal Muslim state in Turkey has become “Islamized” during the last 20 years. Religious convictions govern what they all do.

The positions that these countries take is based on Islamic texts. At the heart of their religion is the belief that they must oppose Israel. Groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood base their hostile and deadly actions on their faith. Contrary to Western political pronouncements, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is not secularized. There political statements proclaim the same religious under-girding.

There are essentially three types of wars: political, just, and holy wars. The American Civil War was a political struggle between the North and the South. World War II has been considered a just war because the Axis operated with cruel, unjust, and inhuman intent. The most dangerous type of warfare is a holy war because at least one of the participants believes they are fighting for Divinity and God Almighty will give them the victory. An end to such a war cannot be negotiated.

Because one side believes God is their champion, they will fight to the death and never voluntarily give ground. The senior-most religious adviser to the PA recently said, “It is the duty of the leaders of the (Islamic) nation and its peoples to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem.” Suicide bombers who blow themselves up for the cause make the point.

That’s the bottom line!

Sorry. There’s no peaceful solution to such a conflict.

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BLOG 371 November 13, 2017

President George Bush made that banal statement that he looked into the soul of Vladimir Putin and saw hope. This past week, President Trump trumped him, saying he believed former KGB Colonel Putin when he said he didn’t meddle in the election and that former heads of American intelligence like the CIA and FBI were political hacks. A day later someone reminded him to say he still stood with the American intelligence community that unanimously documented Putin and agents meddled in the USA election. Highly contradictory at best. Not a good scenario!

The Middle-East doesn’t need anymore contradictions. With the continual deterioration of ISIS, time is getting shorter for creating stability. The liberation of Raqqa, ISIS’s final stronghold, the militant’s position as a military threat is disappearing in that region. However, ISIS appears to be shifting its strategy rather than falling apart.

At the same time, the Kurds are pressing for autonomy and have already proven to be the most able fighters in the region against ISIS. An overwhelming approval by Kurdish voters called for independence. Confrontation is highly possible.

At this point, Iran and Russia have expanded their influence throughout the region. These two powers have supplied the power and arms that have kept Assad in control.  In the midst of these conflicts, Iraq’s Shiite government has done virtually nothing to integrate the Sunnis. The festering problem of mistreatment of the Sunnis provided a fertile recruiting opportunity for ISIS. These factors amount to more dissatisfaction and another conflict waiting to erupt.

The New York Times recently said that the United States appears to have no clear plan to manage this instability or capitalize on military victory in defeating ISIS. The Times appears to be correct.

The recent Muslim militant attacks in Africa give the world a clue about what is coming next. ISIS fighters disappear and then surface again in villages where they continue terrorism and military attacks. The entire region of the Middle-East and Africa remain venerable to such infiltration.

This is not the time for anyone in the American government to suggest that Vladimir Putin is an “old buddy” with hurt feelings because the Congress placed heavy sanctions on Russia for hacking, buying false advertising, and supporting terrorism. Would Putin lie?

He has never stopped lying!

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BLOG 348 May 1, 2017

            Some years ago, I was researching my genealogical background and spent time in the Armenian Sector of the old city of Jerusalem where I became acquainted with a number of friends. April 24, (this past week) commemorated the day the Turks started rounding-up Armenian high ranking citizens living in Istanbul. The horror story grows from there.

This experience from the past is now on the big screen. THE PROMISE tells the story of the Ottoman Turks attempt to wipe out the Armenians, living in the easternmost part of present day Turkey. The movie is powerful, factual, and will touch your heart. The account is based on a true story.

I recommend the film because so few contemporaries understand what happened to 1.5 million Armenians who were systematically murdered by the collapsing Ottoman Turkish Empire as World War I began. The Turks claim they feared the Armenians would join the Russians and were traitors to Turkey. Though not true, the idea is still promoted in the Turkish school system. The Turkish government has denied their official role in murdering the Armenians and to this day refuse to admit what they did. Even two years ago, when Pope Frances called the killings genocide, the Turkish government screamed and said there was no such proof.

There is.

A Turkish historian at Clark University, Taner Akcam has recently found “the smoking gun.” Taner’s academic interest has been in genocide and how it was used in World War I. By rummaging through boxes of documents stored in the Armenian Library in Jerusalem, he found a 1915 telegram from an official in the Turkish city of Erzurum sent in a secret code asking for details on the killings of Armenians. The deciphered telegram helped convict an official. Akcam believes what he has found the path that will allow many other documents to be uncovered, further verifying the past. As Turkey prepared to size their country, in 1922, Armenian leadership shipped 24 boxes of court records to England to keep them from being confiscated. In turn, those documents were sent to the Armenian Library in Jerusalem where Akcam did research. History professor at the City College of New York and an expert on the Armenian genocide, Eric Weitz called Taner Akcam the “Sherlock Holmes of Armenian genocide.”

Many countries such as France, Germany, and Greece have acknowledged what Turkey did. Of course, the Turks scream each time their role in the killings is proclaimed. The United States has not officially recognized Turkey’s brutal acts. President Obama used the term genocide when he was a candidate, but not while in office. Dozens of congressional leaders signed a letter asking President Trump to publically recognize the systematic murders. They doubt if he will do so.

Akcam recognizes that the past is never pasted in the Middle East. Reports of diplomats, missionaries, and journalist who witnessed these events have long existed, but are ignored by Turkish officials. Will the government officials now change their minds? Akcam doesn’t expect that to happen, but he believes that human rights can only be established by acknowledging the path.

Let’s hope that just re-elected Turkish leader Erdogan will wake up. If not, the rest of the world is certainly coming out of the shadows and remembering the past for what it was.

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BLOG 325 November 7, 2016


            Forty-five-year old Samar Hijazi fled Syria with her family. For years she had known the abuse of a domineering and violent husband. Once in Lebanon, she found the strength to approach a judge of the Sunni sharia court that set her free. Samar’s story is not unique. Life in Syria has been bitter for countless numbers of wives.

But that’s not the story I want to tell you.

Freedom has come to multitudes in a widely unpublished form. David Garrison’s book A WIND IN THE HOUSE OF ISLAM relates the untold story of thousands of Muslims converting to Christianity. He is now saying that the pace of Muslim conversions has accelerated. The percent of Muslims converting since the inception of Islam has been slow but in the last two decades 84% of all conversions over the last 1,500 years has occurred.

Garrison recently reported that many Muslims have come to recognize that they did not find satisfaction in their faith. Although the civil war in Syria has torn the country apart and killed hundreds of thousands, silently in the shadows, the Holy Spirit has been bringing Muslims to new insights and spiritual discoveries.

For example, Iranian Javad (last name withheld for his protection) had never met a Christian or owned a Bible. Conversion in Iran could lead to death. However, in 2008, Javad immigrated to Athens, Greece, where he was invited to an Iranian Church. He had no idea such a thing existed and came out of curiosity. A new beginning started in his life. Today, he works at a refugee center providing practical aid. He discovered at the center that 2,000 Muslims had turned to Jesus over the last eight years. Javad had gone from total ignorance to becoming a missionary for the new found faith.

During the unparalleled migration of Muslims out of the Middle East, an informal network of new churches has sprung up in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and other countries. A church in Berlin reported 1,200 conversions during the last three years. In Hamburg, more than 600 Pakistanis and Afghans lined up with Iranians for baptism in one service.

Some will argue these shifts are caused by the need to amalgamate into societies that are hostile to Muslims. Certainly, this is a factor for some seeking better economic opportunity. However, the German magazine Stern reported a young woman saying, “I’ve been looking all my life for peace and happiness, but in Islam, I have not found them.” Another convert said, “In Islam, we always lived in fear. Fear God, fear of sin, fear of punishment. But Christ is a God of love.”

In the Old Testament, Joseph said that what was meant for evil, God used for good. Certainly, this appears to be the first sign of good coming out of the horrors of the Middle East upheaval.

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BLOG 315 August 22, 2016

Father Jacques Hamel had spent a life time as a Roman Catholic priest in his parish in the Normandy region , France. The 85-year-old French priest had been conducting evening worship in his Saint Etienne du Rouvrat Church when two men rushed in from the back and grabbed him. Screaming in Arabic Allah Akbar, they bend the priest over the altar rail and virtually decapitated him.

The terrified tiny congregation of two parishioners and three nuns watched in disbelief and horror. Their small number to some extent reflects the condition of the Christian faith in Western Europe. The future might well rest with a combination of African immigrants and Latin-Mass traditionalists, but the small number attending in Normandy certainly reflects the current situation.

However, we see ever more clearly what the intentions of ISIS is for other religious groups. There is no surprise in the martyrdom of Father Hamel. The extreme Muslims have never made any secret of their desire to attack churches and synagogues. As they continue to fall behind in the Iraqi and Syrian battlefields, their attacks on Christians and Jews surge forward.

In April, 2015, one of the attackers Sid Ghlam had been arrested on suspicion of planning assaults with Father Hamel’s church on his “to do” list. He had already been in contact with an ISIS leader in Syria who instructed him to attack churches and ordered Saint Etienne du Rouvay as a primary target.

In one sense there is nothing new in this story. ISIS has been murdering Christians by the thousands in their controlled territories. The media has generally not heavily reported this history because it is too gruesome. In Mosel, the heads of Christian children are on poles in the park. ISIS now tells recruits not to come to Syria or Iraq but stay in their own lands and attack the infidels at home.

France, Belgium, and Germany tell the story. The only thing that has kept England and America from these Church assaults is extreme readiness. However, France and Belgium were not negligent in their defense against terrorist. But attacks in a Church? Christians shutter at such an idea, that it is now a fact.

The propaganda that ISIS uses to inspire such assaults often comes from Medieval times. The 14thcentury cleric Ibn Rajah wrote, “In charity it is permitted to kill people and animals in the easiest way … the easiest way is to strike off the neck with the sword of violence.” Sid Ghlam must have been reading Rajah.

By the way, there should be no surprises about the killing. ISIS attacks other Muslims who disagree with them. Their basic philosophy is agree 100% with us or you are dead.

I am sure much of what I have written will sound crazy (even with the craziness of the current American political campaign going full tilt) – because it is crazy. But crazy kills.

The world had best pay close attention.

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Filed under middle east, Muslims, Violence


BLOG 312 July 25, 2016

The continuing hostilities in the Middle East are wracking up grief and suffering at an incalculable rate. Unbearable pain stretches from Israel to Saudi Arabia and back. Even people walking down the street or sleeping in their beds are not exempt. Take a look.

Clandestine strikes by Palestinians inside Israel include axe, knife, and vehicle assaults. Sometimes called the Third Intifada, these are individual assaults rather than an army marching. A recent picture in The International Jerusalem Post depicted Rena Ariel hovering over the shroud covered body of her daughter Hallel Yaffa Ariel.

The thirteen-year- old girl was sleeping in her bed when seventeen-year-old Muhammad Tarayrah crept into their house in Hebron and stabbed the sleeping girl to death. Hallel was a beautiful black haired, brown eyed girl loved by all who knew her. At the funeral Rena Ariel looked to the sky and cried out to God, “How do you eulogize a 13 ½-year-old girl? Tell me what words to use to eulogize a flower, a pure soul, who is courageous and beautiful. Your only sin was that you were almost perfect.”

During the funeral Rena Ariel cried out to the murderer’s mother, “I am standing here with a heart filled with pain and I am turning to you, the Arab mother, the Muslim who sent your son out to stab. I raised my daughter with love, but you and the Arab Muslim educators, you taught him to hate.”

The next day Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark was killed in a terrorist drive-by shooting near Hebron. As the shots were fired, his wife and several of his children stood by him. Rabbi Mark tried to shield his wife and children. President of Israel Reuven Rivlin said at the funeral, “The light of the way that Miki paved will not be extinguished. May his memory be blessed.”

Nothing can justify the loss of an innocent child and a devoted scholar, both bent on filling the world with love and making life better for everyone. Their loss is of no small value in calculating the cost of ongoing war in the Middle East.

In the Jewish world, life is precious. Jews constantly salute L‘chaim, life, with a toast. Whether Jew, Muslim, Christian or whatever, all life is priceless. Tragically, war and murder reduces human existence to a mount of dirt in a windswept field.

During the past month, week after week, America has had people killed in the streets. In France from Paris to Nice, citizens lived with senseless killings. This weekend, a killer shot children and adults outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Munich. The police killings and shooting by police continue in the United States. Every 30 minutes to an hour, television gives us another programed version of murder, mayhem, and slaughter. We casually go out for another bowl of popcorn without even wondering if we might be desensitized by the endless carnage.

Well, are we?


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BLOG 310 July 11, 2016

A poignant example of one of the vast difference in values between the East and West emerged this past week. On one hand, an article appeared in the New York Times, July 3, 2016, describing how ISIS planned violence and killing. With recent terrorist incidences in Paris, Canada, Bangladesh, Turkey, etc., we need to be aware. In contrast, the world mourned the passing of Elie Wiesel, one of the towering figures of the 20th century and a survivor of the Holocaust who passed away at the age of 88. The difference between Elie Wiesel and ISIS is a contrast in life and death.

A Romanian-born American Jewish writer, professor, political activist, and Nobel Laureate, Wiesel was the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. Wiesel was a professor of humanities at Boston University, and helped establish the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. He campaigned for victims of oppression in places like South Africa and Nicaragua and genocide in Sudan. He publicly condemned the 1915 Armenian genocide and remained a strong defender of human rights. He will always be remembered as person who stood for the sacredness of life and that all living persons of every race are to be valued.

I met Elie Wiesel a number of years ago in Oklahoma City when my friend Rabbi David Packman brought him to the city. A tall, thin man, I remember he had large hands and long fingers. In a quiet voice, he described the importance of human dignity. On several other occasions, we talked by phone about issues that affected people in the Middle East.

Elie Wiesel valued all humanity. ISIS values none.

The New York Times article described the radical Islamist agenda for taking life. ISIS has advised its operatives to kill “anyone and everyone” particularly in countries that oppose their operations in Syria and Iraq, women and children included. They single out religious groups. Suicide bombers are sent into Shiite mosques. Converts to Christianity are their favorite targets. In both Syria and Iraq, they have carried out a campaign of wholesale slaughter conducted in front of cameras.

Many in the Muslim community are quick to point out that the ISIS radicals violate the true principals of Islam and are heretical. However, ISIS justifies every act by verses in the Koran. The situation continues to be a violation of all human rights.

Can anyone escape a comparison of what Elie Wiesel barely survived in Auschwitz and Buchenwald? The radical Muslim terrorists are the 21st century’s version of Nazi intentions. As I prepared this blog, the media blasted the week’s stories of police killings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Dallas, Texas. When will we ever learn Elie Wiesel’s lesson about the value of all humanity?

The world can not write ISIS off as only a military presence. They are the epitome of evil in our time. Elie Wiesel exposed the meaning of these extremists. In contrast, we must continue to toast and salute “the L’ chaim,” to life, and not allow its precious value to be diminished!

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Each week Robert Wise talks with, interviews, and follows everyday people who have encountered miraculous interventions in their lives. Their amazing stories are described and explored to understand how these encounters occurred. No one theological view or          denominational perspective is involved.


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