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Turkey Won’t Send Athletes to Iran

February 6, 2002

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Turkey refused to send 10 female athletes to an indoor track meet in Iran because they would have to wear Islamic headscarves and long pants during competition.

Ayhan Inanli, head of Turkey’s Athletics Federation, said Wednesday clothing regulations at the 14th International Fajr Indoor Running Competitions in the northwestern Iranian city of Rasht, contradicted secular principles contained in Turkey’s constitution.

``It’s against the principles of our republic,″ Inanli said, adding that the clothing would also hamper women’s ability to compete.

Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country with a staunchly secular state, sees itself as a model for the Muslim world. Women are not allowed to wear Islamic-style head scarves at universities or in public offices.

The decision did not affect the Turkish men, about 10 of whom were sent to the competitions, Inanli said.

Female teams from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Syria have already arrived for the two-day competitions, which get underway Feb. 7, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The competitions are part of celebrations held to commemorate the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iran began 10 days of celebrations on Feb. 1, commemorating the ten days leading to the collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty on Feb. 11, 1979.

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