Archive for category Islam

Supremacy of the Federal Constitution

Azrul Mohd Khalib
The Malay Mail Online
January 21, 2015

JANUARY 21 ― The indignant tone that recently came out of Jakim’s Director General Datuk Othman Mustapha, who denounced the questioning of religious authorities as being part of a liberalism movement, is representative of the larger problem we have with the government religious institutions in this country.

They feel that they are above criticism. That they can do no wrong and are infallible. That to criticise them is to question Islam.

Yet, the attitude and actions of the religious authorities over the past decade have shown all too clearly why the Shariah system in Malaysia is where it is in our Federal Constitution.

There is an actual risk of abuse and misuse of power. It is not abstract or theoretical. It is very real. Ask Nik Raina of Borders. Read the rest of this entry »

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When an opinion becomes a criminal matter

COMMENTARY BY THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
13 January 2015

It took no fewer than 20 policemen to arrest Eric Paulsen last night, just hours after Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin asked for an investigation into the human rights lawyer’s tweet that religious authorities were promoting extremism through Friday prayer sermons.

And it took no less than the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to use the same Twitter microblogging network to announce Paulsen’s arrest – akin to revealing a major breakthrough in solving crime or arrest of kingpins.

Impressive, to say the least, considering that Paulsen was left unmolested when he lodged a report earlier yesterday over death threats following his tweet, which he had taken down after a barrage of criticism.

There was no move to arrest him then although the IGP had already said there would be a probe into the lawyer’s tweet under the Sedition Act. None. Like clockwork, action was only taken after the DPM commented on the matter.

What is even more impressive is that Paulsen had yet to be remanded for the federal police chief to send off a series of tweets on Paulsen’s opinion about Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) sermons promoting extremism. Read the rest of this entry »

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If Europe is to overcome Islamist terror, it needs to fight for the values it holds dear

Paul Mason
The Guardian
11 January 2015

For many on the left, tolerance comes easily. But economic disarray has sapped the will to defend our principles of rationalism and individual liberty

There’s a map of Europe that was supposed to tell the main story. It shows the wealth created in every region in the European Union, colour coded: yellow for poor, green for average and purple for the rich areas that produce up to 125% more per head than the average.

The result looks as if somebody took a broad purple paintbrush, starting near Florence, and swiped upwards through the Alps, western Germany and the Netherlands, running out of paint a little around Denmark, but then colouring in most of Scandinavia.

The lifestyle in these rich regions is the outcome Europe aspired to when it adopted first the single market and then the euro. When the euro project was still working, it was assumed that around this highly developed central bloc of wealthy regions, crossing national borders, there might develop the paradigms of a transnational European culture. Think the high-spec family car, the regional opera house and the skiing holiday. It was, after all, along this geographic corridor connecting Florence with Flémalle that the Renaissance happened.

The eurozone crisis put an end to this conceit. But the current wave of revulsion against Islamist terrorism challenges us to ask, urgently, what the common European culture actually is. Austerity has drawn a horizontal line through the map of Europe, across which solidarity has not readily flowed. German unemployment this week hit an all-time low of 6.5%, while youth unemployment in Italy – even in the “purple zone” – stands at 43%. So if the Charlie Hebdo atrocity was aimed at sparking a culture war in Europe, it could not have been better timed. Read the rest of this entry »

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True Malaysian culture

Dyana Sofya
Malay Mail Online
January 9, 2015

JANUARY 9 ― I am a Muslim and I am a Malay. I am proud and I am okay. I am not an extremist.

On Wednesday, 12 people were shot dead as three gunmen attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in what some now call a militant Islamist attack.

The magazine’s editor-in-chief and four well-known cartoonists, along with two police officers, were among those killed. Apparently, the gunmen claimed to be “avenging the Prophet Muhammad” as they fled the crime scene.

Unfortunately, this tragedy is not an isolated incident. There is now a global trend of young confused Muslims resorting to murder and vengeance in a twisted idea of jihad, justifing their violence in the name of religion.

As the recent government White Paper on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria proves, even Malaysians are not exempt as 39 Malaysians were identified to have been involved in the violent jihadi movement.

This situation contradicts the nature of Islam as the majority of Muslims believe it to be ― the religion of peace. Tariq Ramadan is therefore right to condemn the Charlie Hebdo attack as as a “pure betrayal of our religion,” which we all know to preach compassion and mercy.

In Malaysia, we face a similar problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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Boko Haram may have just killed 2,000 people: ‘Killing went on and on and on’

By Terrence McCoy
Washington Post
January 9, 2015

For months, fear of Boko Haram has gripped Nigeria’s northeast. The goals of the Islamic militant group, which captured international attention through a relentless campaign of brutality, have long been about killing. But last summer, something changed. Its aspirations became as much about territory as terrorism. It no longer wants to just cripple a government. It wants to become one.

In August, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau announced the establishment of his “Islamic Caliphate,” quickly taking over every corner of Borno State in northeast Nigeria. But one town called Baga, populated by thousands of Nigerians along the western shores of Lake Chad, held out. Anchored by a multinational military base manned by troops from Niger to Chad, it was the last place in Borno under the national government’s control. Over the weekend, that changed.

Gunshots punctured the early morning quiet. “They came through the north, the west and from the southern part of the town because the eastern part is only water,” one resident told the BBC. “So, when we [went] toward the western part, we saw heavily armed Boko Haram men coming toward us.” At the sight of the incoming insurgents, the soldiers put up a scant fight before abandoning their base and leaving residents defenseless. Read the rest of this entry »

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Blasphemy and the law of fanatics

Fareed Zakaria
Washington Post
January 8 2015

As they went on their rampage, the men who killed 12 people in Paris this week yelled that they had “avenged the prophet.” They follow in the path of other terrorists who have bombed newspaper offices, stabbed a filmmaker and killed writers and translators, all to mete out what they believe is the proper Koranic punishment for blasphemy. But in fact, the Koran prescribes no punishment for blasphemy. Like so many of the most fanatical and violent aspects of Islamic terrorism today, the idea that Islam requires that insults against the prophet Muhammad be met with violence is a creation of politicians and clerics to serve a political agenda.

One holy book is deeply concerned with blasphemy: the Bible. In the Old Testament, blasphemy and blasphemers are condemned and prescribed harsh punishment. The best-known passage on this is Leviticus 24:16 : “Anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”

By contrast, the word blasphemy appears nowhere in the Koran. (Nor, incidentally, does the Koran anywhere forbid creating images of Muhammad, though there are commentaries and traditions — “hadith” — that do, to guard against idol worship.) Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan has pointed out that “there are more than 200 verses in the Koran, which reveal that the contemporaries of the prophets repeatedly perpetrated the same act, which is now called ‘blasphemy or abuse of the Prophet’ . . . but nowhere does the Koran prescribe the punishment of lashes, or death, or any other physical punishment.” On several occasions, Muhammad treated people who ridiculed him and his teachings with understanding and kindness. “In Islam,” Khan says, “blasphemy is a subject of intellectual discussion rather than a subject of physical punishment.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Raising Questions Within Islam After France Shooting

by David D. Kirkpatrick
New York Times
Jan 8, 2015

CAIRO — Islamist extremists behead Western journalists in Syria, massacre thousands of Iraqis, murder 132 Pakistani schoolchildren, kill a Canadian soldier and take hostage cafe patrons in Australia. Now, two gunmen have massacred a dozen people in the office of a Paris newspaper.

The rash of horrific attacks in the name of Islam is spurring an anguished debate among Muslims here in the heart of the Islamic world about why their religion appears cited so often as a cause for violence and bloodshed.

The majority of scholars and the faithful say Islam is no more inherently violent than other religions. But some Muslims — most notably the president of Egypt — argue that the contemporary understanding of their religion is infected with justifications for violence, requiring the government and its official clerics to correct the teaching of Islam.

“It is unbelievable that the thought we hold holy pushes the Muslim community to be a source of worry, fear, danger, murder and destruction to all the world,” President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt lamented last week in a speech to the clerics of the official religious establishment. “You need to stand sternly,” he told them, calling for no less than “a religious revolution.”

Others, though, insist that the sources of the violence are alienation and resentment, not theology. They argue that the authoritarian rulers of Arab states — who have tried for decades to control Muslim teaching and the application of Islamic law — have set off a violent backlash expressed in religious ideas and language. Promoted by groups like the Islamic State or Al Qaeda, that discourse echoes through Muslim communities as far away as New York or Paris, whose influence and culture still loom over much of the Muslim world.

“Some people who feel crushed or ignored will go toward extremism, and they use religion because that is what they have at hand,” said Said Ferjani, an official of Tunisia’s mainstream Islamist party, Ennahda, speaking about the broader phenomenon of violence in the name of Islam. “If you are attacked and you have a fork in your hand, you will fight back with a fork.” Read the rest of this entry »

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After the Charlie Hebdo attack, we must resist the clash-of-civilisations narrative

Homa Khaleeli
Guardian
7 January 2015

Terrorism feeds on society’s fears – and the relentless questioning of Muslims’ loyalty plays into its hands

It’s hard to admit to a reaction other than sadness to the murder of 12 people, especially when it takes place in a city that feels so close by. The images of sprawling bodies and masked assailants on familiar-looking streets gives the tragedy an extra edge of horror.

Yet in the moments after the news broke about the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I found it impossible to ignore a sinking feeling: the recognition that we were being pulled further into a cycle of distrust and division.

It grew as I read through the responses online. The straightforward reaction from far-right extremists was the hashtag #killallmuslims, which would have been easy to ignore as empty words if it hadn’t reminded me of the firebombing of mosques after the Lee Rigby murder. Read the rest of this entry »

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Charlie Hebdo: We cannot let the Paris murderers define Islam

Ed Husain
Guardian
January 7, 2015

Today’s fanatics are blind to the compassion and care in the prophet’s life. Their ignorance must be tackled head on

The killing of journalists in Paris on Wednesday was not only an attack on France but also an assault on Islam and the very freedoms that allow 30 million Muslims to prosper in the west.

Free speech is not a western concept: it is a universal craving of the human soul. The gunmen ran away shouting that they were “avenging the prophet Muhammad”. How dare they? We cannot let the murderers define Islam.

In seventh-century Mecca, it was the prophet Muhammad who fought for free speech to proclaim one God as the creator of life and worthy of worship. The city’s pagans were his violent persecutors.

Today Muslims live freely in every European country because of the very freedoms that the terrorists struck at. Without the freedom to blaspheme and believe, Muslims would be seen as heretics and would be unable to flourish as faith communities in the west. The pogroms and wars of religion in Europe’s history bear testament to European life without freedom. Read the rest of this entry »

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Charlie Hebdo: The ‘them and us’ narrative is a dangerous downward spiral

Nesrine Malik
Guardian
January 8, 2015

It may suit cynical politicians to push the ‘clash of civilisations’ line, but such polarised thinking is simplistic and can be deadly

It has already started – the talk of a clash of civilisations. After the horrific Paris attack in which 12 people were killed, there is a palpable sense of a Europe on the edge, teetering between righteous anger and tense restraint. Many of the subsequent reactions have fallen along the predictable lines of reasserting the difference between “us” and “them”.

But the Paris attack was not yet another front in the “clash of civilisations”. The term civilisation in itself is meaningless in this context. What civilisation do the terrorists represent? It is understandable that, on the face of it, the attack highlights the perpetrators’ and the victims’ starkly opposed values, one barbaric and silencing, and the other enlightened and freedom loving.

But this is a false dichotomy. It omits a far more uncomfortable and complicated truth about racial tension in France, immigration, and how Muslims are settling in an increasingly secular Europe where the resurgence of rightwing parties has further racialised religion. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Guardian view on Charlie Hebdo: those guns were trained on free speech

Editorial
The Guardian
7 January 2015

Jihadi Kalashnikovs murdered journalists in Paris, but their aim was at stifling liberty of expression everywhere. The condemnation must be unequivocal

Events in Paris today were beyond belief, indeed beyond words. The adjectives are simply not there to capture the horror unleashed by weapons of war in a civilian office. But the murder of at least a dozen French citizens, including 10 journalists on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, was beyond belief in another sense too.

Whatever faith-based or other objections there may once have been to the publication’s provocative editorial judgments are now entirely beside the point. “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,” runs the famous formulation. When men and women have gone to their deaths for nothing more than what they have said, or drawn, there is only one side to be on. The hooded thugs trained their Kalashnikovs on free speech everywhere. If they are allowed to force a loss of nerve, conversation will become inhibited, and liberty of thought itself will falter too. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reforming Islam – Where change comes from

Erasmus
Economist
Jan 7th 2015

WHEN news came of today’s appalling terrorist attack in Paris, I was in the middle of drafting an Erasmus post with some thoughts on the question: can we expect Islam to undergo its own version of the Reformation, or to produce its own Martin Luther? The subject is addressed, in quite an intelligent way, in the latest issue of Foreign Policy, an American journal, and it is a topical one because various modern figures, from the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen to Egypt’s military ruler Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have been described, however improbably, as Muslim answers to Martin Luther.

Today’s ghastly events in France make the question even more pressing, because some people will undoubtedly say: this is proof, if proof were needed, that Islam is incorrigibly and by its very nature violent, intolerant and incapable of accepting the liberal ideal of free speech. And if that view gains traction, many Muslims will in turn conclude that in the face of such unremitting hostility, there is no point in even trying to explain their faith to others or seeking accommodation with their neighbours. So the stakes are very high. Read the rest of this entry »

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Liberty and laughter will live on

Simon Schama
Financial Times
January 7, 2015

It was a bloody attempt to wipe away a smile. But they will never kill satire, writes Simon Schama

The murder of satire is no laughing matter. The horrifying carnage at Charlie Hebdo is a reminder, if ever we needed it, that irreverence is the lifeblood of freedom. I suppose it is some sort of backhanded compliment that the monsters behind the slaughter are so fearful of the lance of mirth that the only voice they have to muffle it is the sound of bullets. Magazines such as Charlie Hebdo are in the business of taking liberties, even outrageous ones, but they exist so that we never take the gift of disrespect for granted.

Liberty and laughter have been twinned in the European tradition for more than three centuries and have together proclaimed as precious the right to ridicule. Graphic satire first arose as a weapon in the atrocious and prolonged religious wars that divided Catholics and Protestants. Read the rest of this entry »

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Paris Attack Underscores a Deeper Malaise

Geopolitical Diary
Stratfor Global Intelligence
January 8, 2015

Wednesday’s deadly attack against a French satirical publication has the potential to upset relations between European states and their Muslim citizenries. The strategic intent behind such attacks is precisely to sow this kind of crisis, as well as to influence French policy and recruit more jihadists. Even though Islamist extremism is, at its core, an intra-Muslim conflict, such incidents will draw in non-Muslims, exacerbating matters.

Three suspected Islamist militants attacked the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with high-powered assault rifles, killing 12 people. Among the dead are the editor and cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier, who was on a hit list appearing in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine for “insulting the Prophet Mohammed.” Eyewitness said they heard the attackers shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Mohammed,” and chanting, “God is Great” in Arabic. This is the third such attack in a Western country in less than three months. The Paris incident involves perpetrators who displayed sophisticated small arms and small unit training.

Whether or not these attacks are the handiwork of self-motivated grassroots jihadists and cells or of individuals tied to international jihadist entities, such incidents aggravate tense relations between the Western and Muslim worlds. This is all the more significant in Europe, where states are experiencing the rise of right-wing nationalism and Muslim communities have long experienced disaffection. The jihadist objective is to get the states to crack down harder on Muslim communities in order to further their narrative that the West is waging war on Islam and Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »

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Floods subside, yet hudud nightmare still haunts

By P Ramasamy
Malaysiakini
Jan 3, 2015

ADUN SPEAKS On Monday Dec 29, 2014, the PAS government in Kelantan had wanted to introduce amendments to the Syariah Criminal Code 1993 – or in other words, pave the way for the introduction of hudud law.

Following this, there would be a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament to be passed before the hudud law is enforced by both the federal and state agencies. PAS hopes that its 21 MPs and other Malay Muslim MPs will vote for this bill to become law. All that is required is a simple majority of 112 members’ support in Parliament.

PAS’ proposal to the introduction of the amendments in the Kelantan state assembly has created serious issues within the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. DAP has vehemently opposed hudud, and has threatened that its introduction would spell the end of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.

PKR, while not wanting to oppose hudud on religious grounds, had maintained that hudud is not part of the common framework of understanding between the three parties within the opposition coalition. Read the rest of this entry »

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Questions for 2015

Tan Siok Choo
The Sun Daily
29 December 2014

WITH 2014 drawing to a close, I have several questions about issues that arose this year but could impact Malaysia’s future.

Question 1: Why does Putrajaya persist in maintaining Malaysia’s growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 won’t be affected by plummeting prices of oil, a commodity that contributes significantly to federal government revenue?

Budget 2015 was prepared when Brent oil – the benchmark for Petronas’s Tapis blend – was in triple digits. Analysts estimate federal government revenue next year is based on an oil price of US$105 per barrel.

Last Friday, amid thin trade, Brent oil for February settlement closed at US$59.45 a barrel.

Labelling the World Bank’s revised forecast of 4.7% GDP growth next year as “too conservative”, top Malaysian policymakers announced the 5% to 6% economic growth target for 2015 will be maintained.

Admittedly, plummeting oil prices could be beneficial – it could stimulate global economic growth and reduce fuel costs for motorists and for sectors like airlines and truckers. Even so, shouldn’t Putrajaya prepare for the worst rather than adopt a wait-and-see attitude? Read the rest of this entry »

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Islam needs heroes, not zeroes who kill in its name

COMMENTARY by Jahabar Sadiq, Editor
The Malaysian Insider
17 December 2014

Yesterday, 132 schoolchildren and nine adults were mowed down by gunfire in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. A day earlier, two hostages died as Australian police ended a siege at a Sydney chocolate shop.

The link between both? It was done by people who professed to be Muslims. It was not a matter of what sect or school of thought they belonged to, they were simply Muslims like a majority of us here in Malaysia.

The Peshawar gunmen belonged to the Tehrik-E-Taliban or Pakistan Taliban out to seek revenge against the Pakistan army for an offensive that began last summer and resulted in some 1,000 deaths.

This was an insurgency’s pure revenge and hate against the government of the day. It was also the same group that shot Pakistani schoolgirl and now Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai in 2012, purportedly because women do not need education in an Islamic caliphate or state.

In Sydney, an Iranian asylum seeker named Man Hosni Monis with a criminal past invoked his Islamic credentials when he took over the Lindt chocolate cafe that ended up in tragedy.

It really does not matter if both incidents have nothing to do with Islam as we know it. Or linked to more than a billion peace-loving Muslims across the globe. For the world, it is all done and declared in the name of Islam. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Malays should back the ‘I am #26′ petition

By Hafidz Baharom
Malaysiakini
Dec 18, 2014

I was recently roped in to support the ‘I Am #26′ petition, a subsequent reaction to the letter of the G25, a group of eminent Malays who long for thorough moderation and not just words without action.

Written by a columnist for The Malaysian Insider, it has at the time of my writing this gained 3,760 signatories in the last four days, averaging 1,000 people a day.

And quite wholly, I agree to what the petition stands for, because it is, in fact, what an Islamic society is supposed to be; thorough, enlightened and in the spirit of brotherhood or sisterhood.

Personally, the five points of the petition to the prime minister requires urgent and immediate attention, and as such, I am wondering what the hesitance is about. Read the rest of this entry »

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Opposing hudud does not mean opposing Islam

— Nadira Ilana
Malay Mail Online
April 23, 2014

APRIL 23 — I’m just not sure what’s a ‘nice’ way to have a conversation about a set of laws that legitimises amputations, slavery and public stoning in God’s name. There are many reasons why I think that hudud has no place in the modern world.

Hudud neglects what we know today about economics and social science. We know that robbers don’t all rob because they’re bad, it’s because they’re often poor, sick or desperate. We know that sociopathy and psychopathy are personality disorders and that people are a product of their environment therefore evil acts are not Satanic manifestations in men. In that respect, not all women and men can be judged the same.

We know that just because four men didn’t witness a rape, it doesn’t mean that a woman has committed adultery. A woman is not the proverbial tree fallen in the forest so a rape kit will do just nicely to prevent her from getting stoned. Consider that if accusations of adultery are punishable too then Mahathir should get a huge walloping for what he’s dragged Anwar through.

Another inconsistency with hudud is that in Islam you can’t amputate livestock if you want to consume their flesh because it’s inhumane but then if a man steals you can amputate his hands. I don’t see the justice here. Taking away the hands of a man who steals because he is hungry is a low blow. Read the rest of this entry »

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Are Malays starting to leave the country?

The Malay Mail Online
December 18, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — The South China Morning Post has suggested that Muslim Malays are starting to leave Malaysia as the country’s lurch towards authoritarianism and fundamentalism starts to bite.

A report in the weekend edition of the Hong Kong paper, titled: “Malay Muslims fleeing country as fundamentalism takes hold” painted a grim picture and suggested an exodus of members of the majority race but gave no numbers or hard data.

It cited a female researcher so disgusted with the state of affairs after her shared accommodation with other women was searched for the presence of a man by Islamic authorities on a morality raid that she has resolved to leave the country in two years.

“An anonymous phone call to the religious department alleging a man was seen entering her flat was all it took for the religious officials to descend on her home,” the paper said, adding that six or seven men from the Selangor State Islamic Department (Jais) had entered her flat.

Unaccompanied by any woman, the men were said to have searched all the bedrooms, closets and even under the bed.

“I don’t feel safe in this country anymore,” the researcher was quoted as saying. “It’s like you are guilty until proven innocent. Anyone can make a phone call to accuse another person out of malice or vengeance and, without proof or investigation, the religious authorities will come to your place.” Read the rest of this entry »

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