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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 16:36 GMT
Bangladesh stops women swimmers
By Roland Buerk
BBC Bangladesh correspondent

Bangladeshi soccer players
Islamic groups have campaigned against women taking part in sport
Bangladesh's government has stopped women taking part in a swimming competition after pressure from an Islamic group.

Radical Muslims threatened large demonstrations if the competition was allowed to go ahead.

Last year the competition was held without incident.

In July, a women's wrestling tournament was cancelled after threats to disrupt it, and a women's football competition was called off after protests.

It was later held peacefully.


The long-distance swimming competition had been due to take place in a river in Chandpur, south of the capital.

Male swimmers set off as planned, but the women's event was cancelled.

Four female swimmers had been expected to take part.

The decision was made by Bangladesh's Sports Minister, Fazlur Rahman.

He said he had no choice after a radical Islamic group threatened to bring the entire district around Chandpur to a halt with protests.

The Committee for Resistance to Un-Islamic Activities said women taking part in the sport would offend Bangladesh's more than 100 million Muslims.

On Monday, they organised a rally in the town that was attended by more than 1,000 people.

Bangladesh is a largely moderate country, but Islamic groups have been campaigning against women taking part in sport.

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