The United Nations Relief and Work Agency has canceled the third annual Gaza marathon after Hamas, the controlling party in the region, banned women from the race.
Journalist Nabila Ramdani planned to run the marathon scheduled for April 10. A French-Algerian journalist living in London, Ramdani expressed her disappointment with Hamas's decision, particularly since women have run the race in previous years:
"I think, frankly, old-fashioned, sexist ideas have prevented a hugely significant race from happening," she says. "A race, which, in the end, aimed to gain maximum positive publicity for a blighted strip of land."
Through the marathon, Ramdani hoped to raise money for U.N.-run summer camps for children in Gaza, another apparent problem for Hamas. "In previous years, there has been anger by Hamas about funds raised by the marathon going to U.N. children summer camps in which boys mix with girls," she explains. "Sadly, this shows that the coming together of the sexes which happens in sporting…is something which has angered conservative members of Hamas for a number of years."