Pakistani Runners Detained

A policewoman detains a human rights activist at the start of a race in which women were banned.
A policewoman detains a human rights activist at the start of a race in which women were banned. (By Mohsin Raza -- Reuters)
Associated Press
Sunday, May 15, 2005

LAHORE, Pakistan, May 14 -- More than two dozen people were detained Saturday after taking part in a foot race that included women, defying a ban imposed after Islamic hard-liners had attacked participants in a similar event.

Asma Jehangir, the former chief of Pakistan's human rights commission, and about 30 other male and female participants were detained at Saturday's race, police official Waqar Abbasi said. The event was canceled.

Authorities banned women from competing in foot races after hard-liners, who regard women's participation in sports as against Islam, attacked runners at a similar event in Punjab province last month.

Abbasi said police and other government officials had asked race organizers to obey the ban, but they refused.

Nabeel Ahmed, one of the organizers of the race, said the arrests were "unjustified" and that the participants had not committed a crime. She said the runners were beaten and then bundled into police vehicles.

Khawar Mumtaz, a human rights activist, said police dragged away Jehangir and dozens of other people. "Police treated participants of the race like criminals," she said, adding "some women were also severely beaten."

Danyal Ali Hassan, a researcher with the New York-based Human Right Watch, said in an interview by phone from a police station that he also was beaten by police before he was detained.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company