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Hamas Ban On Female Runners Spurs Cancellation Of Gaza Marathon

Posted: March 5, 2013

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The U.N. agency that sponsors the marathon said it "regrets" the decision, but blamed the Islamist movement for the move. Hamas says it doesn't "want me and women running together."

Gaza's U.N.-organized marathon has been canceled because Islamist Hamas movement, which rules the area, refused to allow women to run.

The race, scheduled for April 10, would have been the third annual UNRWA Gaza Marathon. In a statement, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency said it "regrets" the decision.

Here's more from the statement:

"UNRWA regrets to announce that it has cancelled the third Gaza marathon which was to be held on 10 April. This follows the decision by the authorities in Gaza not to allow women to participate."

More than 250 international runners had registered for the race; 119 of them women.

The marathon raises funds for the U.N. agency's summer program for children in Gaza.

A Hamas official told the AFP news agency that the organization didn't "want men and women running together."

"We did not tell UNRWA to cancel the marathon and we haven't prevented it, but we laid down some conditions: We don't want women and men mixing in the same place," Abdessalam Siyyam, cabinet secretary of the Hamas government, told AFP.

He added: "We don't want any women [16 and over] running uncovered."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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