UN cancels Gaza marathon after Hamas says women would be banned from taking part
Tuesday 05 March 2013
The annual marathon race run through Gaza has been cancelled by the UN agency responsible for staging the event after Hamas said women would not be allowed to take part.
The third staging of the race, due to be run on 10 April, was cancelled by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) after Hamas, which controls the Palestinian coastal territory, said that having female runners would contravene Islamic tradition. The Islamist group said that it would be happy for the event to go ahead, but only if “local traditions” were observed.
“We regret this decision to cancel the marathon but we don't want men and women running together,” Abdessalam Siyyam, cabinet secretary of the Hamas government, told the AFP news agency.
“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,” he said.
UNRWA, which has at times had a tricky relationship with the Hamas administration, said that school children would be the ultimate victims of the decision: “The marathon was an annual event to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and to raise funds for summer camps organised by UNRWA which serve at least 250,000 schoolchildren,” said Adnan Abu Hasna, the agency's spokesman in Gaza.
As many as 1,500 children, who run a few hundred yards of the main course, were due to start the race. According to UNRWA a record number of women – 379 – had entered this year’s race, including 260 Palestinians. As many as 800 people were registered to run this year’s 26.2 mile race, which winds its way through Gaza and along the Mediterranean coastline.
The cancellation of the race will also deny Nader al-Masri, a Palestinian athlete, of a hat-trick of wins, after he headed the field last year and in 2011.
Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007, when a brief, but bloody civil war with the other main Palestinian faction, Fatah, ended in Hamas’s favour. Since then, the group has had several rows with UNRWA, particularly in relation to what is taught as part of the curriculum in UNRWA sponsored schools. Several rights groups have criticised Hamas for placing restrictions on what women are allowed to do.
UNRWA is tasked with providing assistance to Gaza 1.6 million people, who live in one of the world’s most densely populated areas.
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...