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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 July, 2004, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Women's wrestling called off
Bangladeshi women
Women shouldn't take part in "vulgar sports", protesters say
Bangladesh's first women's wrestling competition has been cancelled at the last minute because of opposition from a number of Islamic groups.

Protesters had threatened to storm the competition venue to stop the event, describing wrestling as "indecent and vulgar for Muslim women".

Women from all over Bangladesh were due to take part in the event.

The state-run wrestling federation said it hoped to be able to hold the competition in a few months' time.

Venue change

The federation's insistence that the competitors would be fully dressed and would not be wearing shorts failed to reassure Islamic protesters.

We are even ready to sacrifice our lives, if necessary, to protect our country from any kind of indecent sports
Moulana Mohiuddin Khan
Jamiatul Ulama Islami leader
"There is a misunderstanding. They might have thought that it would be a tournament like WWF [World Wrestling Federation], but we can assure them there will be nothing like that because we are fully aware of our religious sentiments," the federation's director, Tabiur Rahman, was quoted as saying by the Daily Star newspaper.

WWF shows can be seen on satellite TV channels in the mainly Muslim country.

Dozens of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital, Dhaka, on Friday and Saturday calling on the authorities to cancel the event.

They warned the government that it would be responsible for the consequences if the women's competition went ahead.

"We are even ready to sacrifice our lives, if necessary, to protect our country from any kind of indecent sports," Moulana Mohiuddin Khan, leader of Jamiatul Ulama Islami warned.

Despite the threats, the sporting federation had hoped the tournament would take place, and even changed the venue, moving it from a national gymnasium to a women's sports centre in a residential neighbourhood.

Bangladeshi women regularly compete in sports such as volleyball, swimming, judo and hockey.


SEE ALSO:
Japanese women put up a fight
23 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Bangladesh
26 Mar 04  |  Country profiles



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