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Gaza marathon canceled after Hamas government bans female runners

By Mason White 10:49 AM March 6, 2013
Woman running in the Gaza marathon 

By: Ryan Lee Hall
(Scroll down for video) The marathon in the Gaza Strip which has been scheduled to kick off in the near future has been canceled after the Hamas government banned female runners from participating in the event, according to a statement released by the United Nations.

The main U.N. agency in Gaza, has canceled its annual marathon, after the territory’s rulers, Hamas, banned women from the race.

Hamas said that females participating in the fundraising event, scheduled for April, is in direct contradiction to Islamic tradition.

“We regret this decision to cancel the marathon, but we do not want men and women running together,” Abdessalam Siyyam, the cabinet secretary of the Hamas government, said.

“I did not tell the United Nations agency to cancel the marathon and I did not prevent it, but I set some conditions: We do not want women and men mixed in the same place,” he told the press.

The race this year was to include a record number of runners.
U.N. spokesperson Adnan Abu Hassan said that the disappointing decision came following talks with Hamas officials.

“We can not accept banning women from the event. We are committed to the values ​​of the U.N., which strongly advocates gender equality between women and men. We cannot differentiate,” a U.N. spokesperson said in a statement.

The UN said the marathon was organized to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and to raise money for summer camp organized by the United Nations.

Authorities said 807 men and women have signed up to run in the race.
Another 1,600 school children, girls and boys, have also signed up to join the race. Mobile video not loading? Click here to view