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Muslims Protest Google in England

Thousands of outraged Muslims have been protesting outside Google’s UK headquarters in London over the posting of the Innocence of Muslims video on Youtube, which Google owns. So far those protests appear to be peaceful, but I wouldn’t bet on how long that will last when they’re expressing authoritarian nonsense like this:

Organiser Masoud Alam said: “Our next protest will be at the offices of Google and YouTube across the world. We are looking to ban this film.

“This is not freedom of expression, there is a limit for that. This insult of the Prophet will not be allowed.

The group’s next action was a march Mr Alam hoped would be “a million strong” would take place in Hyde Park “in the next few weeks”, he said.

“Until it is banned we will keep protesting,” he added…

Barricades were erected in front of Google’s headquarters and a crowd bearing placards with the words “We love our prophet more than our lives” and “Prophet Muhammad is the founder of freedom of speech” had amassed by lunchtime…

One of the speakers, Sheikh Faiz Al-Aqtab Siddiqui, told The Daily Telegraph: “Terrorism is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well. The makers of this film have terrorised 1.6 billion people.

“Organisations like Google are key players and have to take responsibility for civility. You can’t just say it doesn’t matter that it’s freedom of speech. It’s anarchy.”

Oh, bullshit. The limits of free speech are not determined by your fragile feelings.

Comments

  1. says

    While I support their right to protest, I also support the right of the filmmakers to express themselves, as vile as the film is. All I can say is the same thing I said to Christians who protested “The Life of Brian” and “Last Temptation of Christ” — if you don’t like the movie, don’t watch it!

  2. Abby Normal says

    Wow, I would have expected this to have blown over by now. That’s some impressive media staying power. Next time I’m launching a product, remind me to put a picture of Muhammad on it. I’ll save a bundle on advertising.

  3. Chiroptera says

    And of course the film makers are winning this one.

    The reaction, especially if it becomes violent, is precisely the aim of the film makers.

    The leaders of this are pretty much playing into the film makers’ hands.

    Or not. I can’t help but notice how the Christianists and the Islamists pretty much exist in a symbiotic relationship. Just as the film makers were intending to provoke a reaction, I wonder how many of the Islamist leaders were actually thanking Allah for this opportunity to rile up the masses.

  4. steve oberski says

    “Prophet Muhammad is the founder of freedom of speech”

    Doesn’t roll off the tongue in quite the same oxymoronic fashion as “Behead those who say Islam is not a religion of Peace” but it deserves honourable mention.

  5. laurentweppe says

    And while the fact that this movie/trailer/wingnut-porn is a blatant case of dogwhistle used to encourage oppression against religious and ethnic minorities is drowned by the exposure given to the organizer of a protest which gathered less than 0,5% of the british Muslims -a crowd whose members may not even all share his views-, the very same pseudo-secular pretenders will use this as another of their fictional “proof” that Muslims should not be allowed to live in Europe as equal citizens…

  6. says

    This is one of those cases where both sides are wrong. YouTube had plenty of good reasons to take that piece of shit down, and they chose not to do so, even though it violated their own rules about a) being deliberately crafted to incite violent reaction, and b) being defamatory toward the actors, who have been embarrassed and hurt by the dishonest dubbing over their spoken parts.

  7. iangould says

    Since the only sources carrying this story are the Daily Mail, Telegraph; Wordlnet Daily; Tehran tiems and the like, wouldn;t be prudent to wait until an actual newspaper covers this story before repeating it?

    The Telegraph article isn’t loading for me but I’d be especially interested in seeing pictures of those “thousands” of Muslims.

  8. says

    Muslims protesting is not free expression. Free expression is responsible expression. These Muslims attack The Google and they attack her son, Youtube, grace be upon her.

  9. iangould says

    Meanwhile, actual violence by right-wing Greek Christians protesting a play they deem blasphemous gets about 1% of the media attention.

    (And, no, for those with a comprehension question, that’s neither an attnmpt at defelction or at minimizing violence perpretrated by Muslims.)

  10. laurentweppe says

    The Telegraph article isn’t loading for me but I’d be especially interested in seeing pictures of those “thousands” of Muslims

    It is loading for me, and yes, the pictures do show thousands of people protesting in front of Google’s offices, though probably not the 10.000 boasted by the organizers.

    But even if this number is correct, there are between 2,5 and 3 million Muslims in the UK, so it remain a very tiny fraction of their population.

  11. Red-Green in Blue says

    Sheikh Faiz Al-Aqtab Siddiqui (from the Telegraph article):

    Terrorism is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well. The makers of this film have terrorised 1.6 billion people.

    I was about to explode at the sheer hyperbole of this statement – and then it occurred to me that we in the West have been similarly willing to redefine “terrorism”, even to the point of being an entity on which we can wage war. Still, this is an extraordinary use of the word. How does one kill a human feeling, Mr Siddiqui, and how can one tell whether it has been killed?

    PS. Ed, it’s a small point, but many in the Atlantic Archipelago get somewhat annoyed when “England” is used to mean the United Kingdom. Though admittedly we tend to grumble about Anglocentric views of history and politics rather than calling for bans or fatwas :-)

  12. says

    But even if this number is correct, there are between 2,5 and 3 million Muslims in the UK, so it remain a very tiny fraction of their population.

    That’s not a valid comparison, since a protest in London is not easily accessible for Muslims living further from London. The proper comparison is between Muslims attending the protest and Muslims in London.

  13. AsqJames says

    Loaded for me too, and I have to say 10,000 looks like a gross over-estimate to me…by like an order of magnitude. It honestly looks closer to around 1,000 (2,000 at the most), but it’s hard to tell as at no point in the video do they clearly show the edges of the crowd. The first few seconds of the video might be showing the full extent as the far end appears to be demarked by several hi-vis wearing police officers.

  14. Alverant says

    #11
    Link please, just to satisfy my own curiousity. What was so blasphmous in the play to illicit that kind of response?

    Makes me wonder what would happen if someone tried to put on a play in the US that says the “ressurection” of Jesus was nothing more than a fraud perpetuated by a look-alike.

  15. says

    Abby Normal “Wow, I would have expected this to have blown over by now. That’s some impressive media staying power. Next time I’m launching a product, remind me to put a picture of Muhammad on it. I’ll save a bundle on advertising.”
    I’m way ahead of you, operating on a higher plane. Chia Muhammad.

  16. Q.E.D says

    Dear UK muslims, so 10,000 of you have come from all over Britain to protest a movie so bad that if it were a high school film project, it would fail.

    Really? You have nothing better to do? Because I have some suggestions, a long list really.

    This makes you look bad. It makes you look like you don’t understand free speech; like you don’t understand the society you live in. You are creating a forum for your people to say really stupid shit that will be thrown back in your face over and over again.

    stupid shit like this:

    Terrorism is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well. The makers of this film have terrorised 1.6 billion people. – Sheikh Faiz Al-Aqtab Siddiqui

    No Faiz, it doesn’t, it really doesn’t. Now go do something useful like protest secret drone wars that actually terrorize muslims and actually kills innocent people dead.

  17. laurentweppe says

    That’s not a valid comparison, since a protest in London is not easily accessible for Muslims living further from London

    Appart from the fact that half the UK’s Muslim’s actually live in London the article specifically states that some people came from Glasgow (you know: Scotland).

  18. abb3w says

    @7, Raging Bee:

    deliberately crafted to incite violent reaction

    Pedantically… I don’t think so; rather, deliberately crafted to provoke violent reaction. As I understand the philosophical lines drawn in the law, incitement requires advocacy, and I don’t think the movie’s portrayal of Muslims as violent can readily be construed as advocating that Muslims should be violent.

    @10, Dr X:

    Free expression is responsible expression.

    I’m presuming the echo of the Islamic argument that this movie is not free expression is ironic rather than oblivious.

  19. says

    @abb3W:

    I’m presuming the echo of the Islamic argument that this movie is not free expression is ironic rather than oblivious.

    I thought the rest of my comment would convey that:

    These Muslims attack The Google and they attack her son, Youtube, grace be upon her.

  20. tmscott says

    While I disagree with their premise, their practice (so far) is exactly what I advocate, that the cure for bad free speech is more free speech. They have every right to protest and advocate for their point of view in the market free ideas. However, advocating for government control of your (or anyone’s) content is like shooting yourself in the foot.

  21. ragarth says

    Anyone else struck by the sheer irony of one authoritarian religious group desiring the limitation of religious expression protesting the product of another authoritarian religious group desiring the limitation of religious expression?

    Seriously, this is like being trapped inside an escher drawing made of moral ink.

  22. John Phillips, FCD says

    Raging bee, you can travel from just about any reasonably populated part of the mainland to London in well under a day. If you limit it to just England, you’re not even talking half a day maximum and if you limit to the area where the vast majority (85% or roughly 43 million at 2008 figures) of all people live in England, irrespective of ethnicity, i.e. south of a Liverpool to Leeds line (Leeds to London = 196 miles distance by road), you’re looking at a few hours travel time by the slowest method. Plus, 40% of England’s Muslims live in London, very roughly that’s some 1,200,000 in Greater London. So what looks like a crowd of a few thousand in the pictures is nothing much for a London protest. Even assuming that the 10,000 figure was accurate, that is still only about 0.8% of the Greater London Muslim population.

  23. fastlane says

    One of the speakers, Sheikh Faiz Al-Aqtab Siddiqui, told The Daily Telegraph: “Terrorism is not just people who kill human bodies, but who kill human feelings as well. The makers of this film have terrorised 1.6 billion people.”

    Wow, this has got to be one of the worst cases of false equivalence I’ve seen in…well, since the founding of the internet by Al Gore!

    We are looking to ban this film.

    “Prophet Muhammad is the founder of freedom of speech”

    We know they don’t get it, but do they have to make it so obvious?

    I wonder how long these people have been muslim and been living in Jolly ol’ England. Cuz, I doubt they were protesting whenAl Queda released video footage of them beheading people. Which, in my book, is at least a couple orders of magnitude worse than being made fun of.

  24. kermit. says

    laurentweppe …some people came from Glasgow (you know: Scotland).

    That’s part of England, right?

    Alverant Makes me wonder what would happen if someone tried to put on a play in the US that says the “ressurection” of Jesus was nothing more than a fraud perpetuated by a look-alike.

    The Last Temptation of Christ was released in 1988 and was based on an historical fiction novel describing a Jesus who was tempted with all the usual desires, but who managed to transcend them all. Christian fundies were extremely upset. Despite the bible describing Jesus as being tempted, they got furious at a Christ depicted as not being effortlessly above it all.

    Their discomfort included firebombing a theater in Paris as well as world-wide protests. Wikipedia has a good article on it.

    Can’t imagine what would happen if a Jesus movie suggested he were a fraud. I think it would have to be fairly mainstream for the RR to get excited. They seem to miss indie films, and books are completely off their radar.

  25. Woof says

    Barricades were erected in front of Google’s headquarters and a crowd bearing placards with the words “We love our prophet more than our lives” and “Prophet Muhammad is the founder of freedom of speech” had amassed by lunchtime…

    My totally-made-up religion (just like theirs) does not allow the use of the term “Prophet Muhammad”. The penalty is, as usual in these things, death. Boy are these bastards in trouble!

    Hey, if we can get enough guys (sorry, gals, it’s almost always just us guys) with scary beards together we just might be able to pull this off…

  26. jonathangray says

    “The limits of free speech are not determined by your fragile feelings.”

    Unless you’re a female atheist.

  27. dingojack says

    Woof – boy are you in trouble, my totally made-up religion forbids the denigration or exclusion of overly hirsute women!!
    Dingo :)

  28. zmidponk says

    jonathangray #30:

    “The limits of free speech are not determined by your fragile feelings.”

    Unless you’re a female atheist.

    If you’re referring to the recent rise in disagreement, to perhaps put it a bit too mildly, over feminism within atheist circles, you do know the difference between making certain speech illegal and dismissing someone as a misogynist douchebag for saying things that expose them as such? Or between making certain speech illegal and saying ‘guys, please don’t do this, it’s creepy’? Or between making certain speech illegal and having a proper policy that allows people to know what to do if they’re being harassed at a convention? If so, then I really want to know what, precisely, you’re referring to with that comment.

  29. jonathangray says

    AFAIK no atheist has called for misogynist speech to be made illegal. But lots of atheists have condemned misogynist speech on the grounds that it is distasteful and disrespectful to individuals. Whatever happened to “no-one has a right not to be offended”?

  30. zmidponk says

    jonathangray #33:

    AFAIK no atheist has called for misogynist speech to be made illegal. But lots of atheists have condemned misogynist speech on the grounds that it is distasteful and disrespectful to individuals.

    …which is them exercising their freedom of speech. True freedom of speech means the other person gets to talk back.

    Whatever happened to “no-one has a right not to be offended”?

    You misunderstand this. This means that you do not have the right to never experience anything that offends you. What it does not mean is that you are barred from expressing that you are offended, and why (assuming, of course, that expression does not take the form of physical violence, or something of that nature). If you are offended for senseless reasons, though, people are free, in turn, to laugh at you.

  31. jonathangray says

    Fair enough. However I’ve noticed that when FTBers and A+heists attack supposedly misogynist atheists, they do not typically frame their disagreement as the legitimate exercise of free speech by those with opposing viewpoints. They talk in terms of an abuse of free speech which, while it may be legal, is anathematised as thoroughly illicit. Witness PZ Meyers’ recent post scorning the faux free speech which amounts to “I get to do whatever I want, no matter who it hurts”. Naturally such strictures don’t apply to Meyers himself, who is free to engage in cuntish behaviour.

    I wonder if you would regard a group peacefully demonstrating outside an abortion clinic with gruesome pictures of aborted babies as engaged in the legitimate exercise of free speech, or if you think the cops should move them on.

  32. zmidponk says

    johnathangray #35:

    Fair enough. However I’ve noticed that when FTBers and A+heists attack supposedly misogynist atheists, they do not typically frame their disagreement as the legitimate exercise of free speech by those with opposing viewpoints. They talk in terms of an abuse of free speech which, while it may be legal, is anathematised as thoroughly illicit.

    It is only ‘illicit’ or ‘abuse’ in the sense that, people who use speech like this take full advantage of the idea of free speech whilst not accepting any responsibility for that speech. Whilst no-one has the right to not be offended, if you’re being offensive for no real reason, or reasons that cannot really be justified (as is usually, if not always, the case with things like racism or misogyny), you’re hardly blameless for the offense caused.

    Witness PZ Meyers’ recent post scorning the faux free speech which amounts to “I get to do whatever I want, no matter who it hurts”. Naturally such strictures don’t apply to Meyers himself, who is free to engage in cuntish behaviour.

    Such as…?

    I wonder if you would regard a group peacefully demonstrating outside an abortion clinic with gruesome pictures of aborted babies as engaged in the legitimate exercise of free speech, or if you think the cops should move them on.

    I would say that’s a classic example of people utilising free speech whilst not taking the responsibility of making sure what they’re saying isn’t, at the very least, a tad misleading. I say this because such pictures take what happens in a minority of abortions and use it as an emotionally-charged argument which implies, if not outright says, that abortion is wrong because this happens in all abortions.

    On the specific issue of whether the cops should move them on, it depends on your framing. Framing it, as you have, as purely and completely a free speech issue, the answer is ‘no’. However, taking into account the reality that, quite often, those same groups also have members, at least, that can harass and intimidate people entering said clinic (even if they’re going there for reasons that have nothing to do with an abortion), and legal considerations, I would say there’s at least an argument to be answered for ‘yes’.

  33. jonathangray says

    zmidponk:

    if you’re being offensive for no real reason, or reasons that cannot really be justified (as is usually, if not always, the case with things like racism or misogyny), you’re hardly blameless for the offense caused.

    You’re saying there are occasions when racism and misogyny can be justified?

    Such as…?

    Religious desecration.

  34. zmidponk says

    johnathangray #39:

    You’re saying there are occasions when racism and misogyny can be justified?

    On rare occasions, yes, it can be justified by what seems, at first glance, a valid reason. However, I’ve never yet come across a situation where that justification actually stands up under any sort of scrutiny or examination.

    I will note that it’s rather odd that it is you asking that question, given that it’s only back in comment #35 you were talking about ‘when FTBers and A+heists attack supposedly misogynist atheists’, and, thus far, you seem to be coming to this issue from the whole direction of pointing out misogyny is a violation of free speech.

    Religious desecration.

    Religious desecration hurts who, precisely? No-one. It only causes offense, and, as we’ve already covered, this means the people offended are perfectly free to say so, and the people who find their reasons for being offended laughable are perfectly free to laugh.

  35. jonathangray says

    zmidponk:

    Religious desecration hurts who, precisely?

    It hurts people in much the same way that calling someone a cunt or a queer or a nigger hurts them, I imagine.

  36. zmidponk says

    johnathangray:

    It hurts people in much the same way that calling someone a cunt or a queer or a nigger hurts them, I imagine.

    If you can’t see the difference between a targeted insult against a specific person which has undertones suggesting that an entire group of people are inferior simply because they exist and someone simply failing to have the same level of veneration for something as followers of a certain religion, then I really don’t know what to say – except of course, that I most definitely can see a difference.

  37. dingojack says

    zmidponk – except when the two are not different.
    If a person’s veneration seems to them to be an integral part of their identity, insulting the object of veneration is “a targeted insult … which has undertones suggesting that an entire group of people are inferior simply because they exist…”.
    You don’t get to say whether they are offended or insulted, they do.
    Dingo
    —–
    Although personally, I think Catholics offense at PZ Myer’s ‘crackergate’ is silly and disproportionate, perhaps they think my reaction to lead-up to that incident is equally disproportionate and ridiculous.

  38. zmidponk says

    dingojack:

    zmidponk – except when the two are not different.
    If a person’s veneration seems to them to be an integral part of their identity, insulting the object of veneration is “a targeted insult … which has undertones suggesting that an entire group of people are inferior simply because they exist…”.

    You have a point in cases where someone deliberately commits religious desecration for no other reason than to cause offense to the members of that religious group. Even then, there is a slight difference, unless the purpose is to specifically insult one particular member of that group. However, from what johnathangray has been saying, all religious desecration is equivalent.

    You don’t get to say whether they are offended or insulted, they do.

    Strange, I could have sworn I specifically said that, if they are offended, they are perfectly free to express this. Looking at comment #40, I see I am correct in that belief. I can see no other comment of mine that even mentions whether they are offended or insulted or not, so I am somewhat puzzled as to why you say this.

    Although personally, I think Catholics offense at PZ Myer’s ‘crackergate’ is silly and disproportionate, perhaps they think my reaction to lead-up to that incident is equally disproportionate and ridiculous.

    Actually, given the circumstances of ‘crackergate’ (a student receiving death threats for the heinous act of failing to eat a cracker during communion, then PZ Myers ‘desecrating’ a cracker to show that it is, indeed, just a cracker, nothing more), I find the whole attitude and response of the Catholics concerned completely disproportionate and utterly ridiculous. As we’ve already covered, they are perfectly free to express their offense (though, in this case, some of them went further than that, and crossed the line from simply expressing their offense to advocating things which actually restrict that student’s freedom of religious expression, and also advocating physical violence against that student), and I am perfectly free to express that I think their reasons for being offended are ridiculous.

  39. dingojack says

    zmidponk – I’d really like to discuss this further, but I really need to sleep. I’d like to come back to this when I’m a little more clear-headed. Is that OK with you?
    Dingo

  40. zmidponk says

    dingojack:

    zmidponk – I’d really like to discuss this further, but I really need to sleep. I’d like to come back to this when I’m a little more clear-headed. Is that OK with you?
    Dingo

    Perfectly OK with me, but when you come back, I’d like you to think about what’s different between these three scenarios:

    A) Person A says ‘according to my beliefs, napkins are holy objects’. Person B says, ‘OK, if that’s true, if I rip one up and throw it in the trash, then your god will strike me down on the spot’. Person B then proceeds to rip up a napkin and throw it in the trash, stands around waiting for a moment, says, ‘See? Nothing happened’, then walks off.

    B) Person A says ‘according to my beliefs, napkins are holy objects’. Later, person B, who hasn’t heard this, takes a napkin, uses it to clean up a spill, then throws it in the trash before walking off.

    C) Person A says ‘according to my beliefs, napkins are holy objects’. Person B hears this, grabs a napkin, holds it up in front of person A’s face whilst tearing it up, then, whilst looking right at person A, gives them wink, throws it in the trash and walks off.

  41. dingojack says

    OK, OK I know I said I was going to bed…
    (Please be aware that I might express this poorly and less than coherently)
    Jonathangrey seemed to imply that both are always the same; you seem to be implying that they are never the same. What I was trying to express was that in some cases they are the same.
    For example for those on both sides of the Irish Troubles, ‘First Nation’ Peoples, highly devout members of the Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim communities, their religious beliefs are inextricably bound to their cultural identity; insulting one is insulting the other.
    In such cases the intent of the perpetrator isn’t the issue, rather, the issue is how the victim was made to feel. Just like cases of racially-based attacks or sexual assaults, they shouldn’t made to feel less than human because of something (they feel) is an immutable part of their identity.
    Dingo
    —–
    OK – I’m not being very clear. I’ll think about it and try again later.

  42. zmidponk says

    dingojack #47:

    OK, OK I know I said I was going to bed…
    (Please be aware that I might express this poorly and less than coherently)
    Jonathangrey seemed to imply that both are always the same; you seem to be implying that they are never the same. What I was trying to express was that in some cases they are the same.

    This, I mostly agree with – it is perfectly possible to insult someone over their religion for no real reason in the same manner that it is possible to insult someone over their skin colour, for example, for no real reason. There is still something of a difference in that you can change your religion (though, in some circumstances, this can be extremely difficult), but you cannot really change your skin colour.

    For example for those on both sides of the Irish Troubles, ‘First Nation’ Peoples, highly devout members of the Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim communities, their religious beliefs are inextricably bound to their cultural identity; insulting one is insulting the other.
    In such cases the intent of the perpetrator isn’t the issue, rather, the issue is how the victim was made to feel. Just like cases of racially-based attacks or sexual assaults, they shouldn’t made to feel less than human because of something (they feel) is an immutable part of their identity.

    I would not quite agree with this. I agree that, from a moral perspective, someone should never say something or do something where the primary or only reason is to make someone feel less than human due to their religion. Having said that, this is a part of free speech – everyone has the right to say things which expose themselves as being complete arseholes. However, if this occurs as something of a side-effect, of, say, someone drawing Muhammad in order to have a book about the history of Islam illustrated, then, even from a moral perspective, this is perfectly OK. This is where the idea of ‘no-one has the right to not be offended’ comes in – they can be offended, and to express that they are offended, and why, but that’s really it. They cannot say that someone does not have the right to draw Muhammad, for any reason, simply because it offends them, or else they are saying they have a right of not being offended which trumps everyone else’s right of free expression.

  43. says

    Raging bee, you can travel from just about any reasonably populated part of the mainland to London in well under a day.

    It took me from dawn till dusk to drive from Heathrow to Newcastle, and I really wouldn’t expect that many Muslim immigrants to have both time and money to spare for such a junket.

  44. says

    Having said that, this is a part of free speech…

    What about making a movie in which the actors were deliberately misled about the nature of the project, and had their own words overdubbed with something else entirely, for a stated purpose that was every bit as malicious as the act itself? Is that “part of free speech” too?

    Just because people you hate are against something, does not make it right or defensible.

  45. zmidponk says

    Raging Bee:

    What about making a movie in which the actors were deliberately misled about the nature of the project, and had their own words overdubbed with something else entirely, for a stated purpose that was every bit as malicious as the act itself? Is that “part of free speech” too?

    Well, if the director knowingly allowed the actors to say the wrong lines during the actual shoot, knowing that those lines would later be changed, then, actually, the actors’ freedom of expression have been infringed, as they’re not being given an opportunity to decide for themselves whether to be associated with such a film. However, if this did not occur, and it was decided after the shoot to change things, then you have to take into account that each actor is playing a part, and it is, to a large degree, up to the director and/or writer what the character they’re playing says or does, so it could be argued that the writer and/or director has every right to decide to change the lines by post-production over-dubbing, as it’s not the actor’s movie.

    As for the issue of whether an offensive movie should even be made, you ever heard the quote, ‘I may disagree with what you say, but defend your right to say it’? That is what applies here – even if a movie were to made which was filled with and promoted, say, blatent and flagrant racism, sexism and homophobia, then it should be exposed as the utterly detestable movie it is, not simply banned or silenced, or else we’re just as bad as Muslims who say that no-one is ever allowed to depict Muhammad, for any reason, because it offends them.

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