The Government insisted over the weekend it would not relax its ban on children wearing Islamic headscarves to state schools, increasing the chances that two Muslim girls will be barred from class today. The parents of a third girl who had been wearing a headscarf - or tudung - to class have withdrawn from the fray, however. They said they would educate their daughter at home this year and then attempt to enrol her in a religious school. The standoff between the Muslim families and the Government has dominated headlines in multiracial Singapore. It also comes shortly after ministers locked horns with a vocal Muslim critic of government policy, and security forces unearthed an alleged Islamic terrorist network. In his first comments on the issue, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said there could be no compromise. 'They'll be suspended if they do not take off the headscarves. The schools have rules. You can't give way on that,' he told an audience of Malay-Muslim professionals on Saturday. The Prime Minister advised the families to challenge the uniform policy in court, promising his administration would honour the judges' decision. 'If the schools give way, then I think 'Let us not have any rules'. So that is very clear, they will be suspended,' he said in remarks quoted in the Sunday Times. Singapore's state schools do not permit the wearing of Islamic headscarves, in a bid to encourage racial and religious integration. Some Muslims believe, however, that women must wear a tudung to preserve their modesty. The confrontation began last month when the three families sent their children to their first year of state school wearing scarves. After discussions between families and officials, the schools set last Friday as a deadline for the trio to comply. It was then, in effect, extended to today. A fourth family, whose daughter started to wear the tudung to class several weeks into the term is still being counselled by officials and, as yet, faces no deadline to comply with. About 15 per cent of Singapore's 3.2 million citizens are Malay-Muslims, while 10 per cent are Indian and 75 per cent are Chinese. The dissenting parents were not available for comment yesterday but were understood to be in discussions with religious advisers about whether to go on defying the Government. Lim Chee Hwee, a senior official at the Ministry of Education, said giving ground on the tudung would undermine the authorities' entire stance on promoting multi-racialism in schools. 'The wearing of turbans by Sikhs has been used by some to justify the wearing of headscarves by Muslims,' the official said in written remarks carried in the local press. 'If we accept that as the precedent rather than stopping there, then the opening of the floodgates will become a reality as each group calls for its own practices to be recognised.' Meanwhile sharp criticism of Singapore mounted in Muslim Malaysia yesterday over the issue. Mustapha Ali, vice-president of the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia, said: 'Headscarves do not disrupt racial unity. They pose no problems. We support the girls' parents in their stand.' Singapore on Thursday accused a senior Malaysian official of interfering in the city-state's internal affairs after he commented on the threatened suspension of the four Muslim girls. 'We are surprised at the remarks which Malaysian Deputy Education Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz is reported to have made,' the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. 'This is an interference in Singapore's internal affairs.' Mr Aziz had earlier urged the Singapore Government to review its policy on the scarves. The decision could cause a national conflict, he added.