Fatah assails Hamas misogyny in aborted marathon

Gaza rulers’ refusal to allow women to participate in UN-organized race is unjust and un-Palestinian, PM Fayyad charges

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Burqa-clad women (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Burqa-clad women (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank accused the Hamas government in Gaza of misogyny on Wednesday for its refusal to allow women to participate in a UN-organized marathon, causing its cancellation.

The third annual marathon was scheduled to take place along the Gaza Strip coast on April 10, but was canceled by UNRWA after Hamas officials told the organization that adult females would not be allowed to participate.

“This move harms the status of Palestinian women, their national and social role, and their absolute right to equality under the Basic Law,” wrote PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on his Facebook page. “[It also harms] our people’s customs, which always aspired to enshrine the status of women and reject all attempts to exclude and marginalize them.”

Fatah also issued a statement on Wednesday, condemning Hamas for “dangerous racist discrimination on the basis of gender,” and accusing the Islamic movement of tarnishing the Palestinian reputation abroad.

“This decision deals a death blow to the Palestinian national liberation movement,” the statement read. “Those who prevented the participation of young Palestinian women are not only violating the natural and historic rights of the Palestinian woman… but they are also falsifying our people’s cultural and liberating image, presenting their own extremist worldview.”

Hamas had sent a letter to UNRWA claiming it was allowing the marathon to take place “under certain limitations relating to Palestinian customs and traditions,” the Gaza-based human rights watchdog Al-Mezan reported.

Al-Mezan called on Hamas to “remove all the  barriers” hindering the marathon, but also asked that UNRWA go forward with the race as planned, “since it could contribute greatly to enhancing international solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

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