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Saudi Arabian Girls' School Investigated for 'Illegal' Sports

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An "illegal" sports tournament has drawn the attention of Saudi government officials after 200 young girls from six Jeddah private high school "broke ministry rules" against girls' participation in organized sports.

"We don't have any regulations that say that it's OK for girls' schools to hold sports classes or training," Ahmed Al-Zahrani, director of girls' education in Jeddah, told the UK's Telegraph.

"This tournament was held by these schools, something that has now led us to know about their illegal activities," he said.

According to the Telegraph, women's access to sports in Saudi Arabia is highly restricted, governed according to "an ultra-strict version of Islam." In fact, women are barred from participating on the Saudi Olympic team and are not allowed to attend public sports matches.

But the private Saudi girls' schools sports tournament was hosted by Effat University, a private institution, and included basketball, badminton, swimming and athletics.

Farida Farsi, chairwoman of Al-Hamra Schools, says she received an inquiring letter from the Saudi Ministry of Education asking why it was held.

"I also received a huge number of letters and telephone calls from conservative Saudi men and sheikhs who said that I should've known better and advised me not to hold such competitions in the future because it's not ladylike," Farsi said.

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