Toronto: A team of Muslim girls wearing hijabs were forced to pull out of a martial art tournament after a sport federation ruled that girls cannot cover up if they want to fight.
The rules of World Tae Kwan Do Federation pointedly say: “Wearing any item on the head other than the head protector shall not be permitted.” But it was never enforced earlier, media reports said.
Five girls between the ages of eight and 13 competing with their Muslim community centre in Montreal were barred from a competition in the Longueuil tournament until they removed their hijabs or headscarves.
Their organizers from the community centre said the girls competed with hijabs in the last years’ events. Officials from the international level said that the rule was hardly enforced in situations where these were worn by girls.
“Theoretically, it’s against the rules, but most countries accept it,” said Gerrit Eissnik from the World Tae Kwon Do Federation Council.
“I feel very sad because we practiced so hard and were pulled out for what is most certainly a trivial reason,” said 11-year-old Bissan Mansour. The girls have returned home following the decision. A boys’ team from the same community centre also withdrew upon hearing the news.
Referees at the Quebec regional Raymond Mourad Championship met onthe first day of the tournament, to talk about rules and regulations.“The equipment that is allowed under the World Tae Kwon Do Federation rules does not include the hijab,” said referee Stephane Menard, who took part in the meeting.