PICKET: NY amusement park faces likely legal battle over Muslim headscarfs

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Fight Beaks Out at Rye Playland Over Muslim Headscarves: MyFoxNY.com

As a result of a brawl (video above) that broke out at their amusement park, Westchester New York’s Rye Playland, could be facing legal issues from local Muslims. According to Gothamist.com:

Fifteen people were arrested at Rye Playland amusement park in Westchester County yesterday afternoon, and two charged with felony assault after a melee broke out when a park employee asked a Muslim woman to remove her headscarf before boarding a ride. The woman who attempted to ride the Dragon Rollercoaster, Haifa Ali, tells Patch that after she was told she couldn’t ride unless she removed her hijab, she and a group of other Muslim women went to ask for a refund. Then “someone grabbed her hijab…a park ranger wrestled another one of the women to the ground,” when “law enforcement began to converge on the group, hitting them with batons.” Another eyewitness not with the group says she heard one female police officer yell, “I don’t give a f*ck about your culture.”

This is a legal battle that will likely get nastier and is similar to that of other cases regarding removal of Islamic headdresses for drivers license photos and at security check points. In this case, Playland is arguing that the women were asked to remove their hijabs before they rode the rolller coaster in the interest of safety.

For anyone not familiar with Rye Playland’s Dragon Coaster, its a rickety 82 year old ride and the roller coaster’s mere fragile age ups the scary factor above other fancy modern day loopy roller coaster ride. That being said, I grew up riding the Dragon Coaster and clearly remember ride operators telling riders to remove their hats and other loose items before they entered the roller coaster cars.

The Dragon Coaster (video below) already has tragedy and accidents attached to it. In 1988, a girl choked to death on the ride, because a piece of chewing gum became lodged in her throat. According to the local county paper, in 1984 a teen ager was quite literally thrown from the ride and dragged on the tracks. In fact, he actually fell several stories. Luckily, he lived to tell his tale, but that was only after slipping into a coma. 

Some are arguing that other ride operators allowed women with hijabs on to other rides at the park. However, that may just mean the ride operators were not enforcing park policy. After all, it is also park policy that if a child is under certain height, he or she cannot go on a particular ride like the Dragon Coaster, for example. Does that mean a ride operator always enforces that policy? Probably not, even though they should. 

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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