MONTREAL - The Quebec taekwondo federation refuses to bend on allowing hijabs under protective helmets during women's competition.

The federation's administrative council met yesterday in Montreal to discuss the barring of Muslim girls from a tournament in Longueuil earlier this month.

Five athletes, between eight and 13 years old, from a Montreal club were told they could not compete unless they removed their headscarves.

The provincial tae-kwon-do federation cited world federation regulations and safety concerns, despite allowing hijabs in the past.

The girls' coaches and members of Montreal's Muslim community argued for the ban's removal during the meeting.

They suggested Muslim athletes be permitted to wear sports hijabs, which are tighter and more secure.