updated 5/14/2005 9:49:15 PM ET 2005-05-15T01:49:15

More than two dozen people were detained Saturday after taking part in a foot race that included women, defying a ban put in place after Islamic hard-liners 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 Islamic hard-liners, who regard women’s participation in sports as against Islam, attacked runners at a similar event elsewhere in the Punjab province last month.

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

However, one of the organizers, Nabeel Ahmed, said the arrests were “unjustified” and that 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 Human Right Watch, told The Associated Press by mobile phone from a police station that he was also beaten by police before being detained.

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