Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A day at the amusement park ruined

Muslims, police scuffle at Rye Playland over amusement park's head scarf ban; 15 arrests made

Police on the scene at Rye Playland on Tuesday.
Norman Y. Lono for News
Police on the scene at Rye Playland on Tuesday.

Fifteen people, including three women, were charged with disorderly conduct and assault in the chaos, authorities said.

Rye Playland was shut down Tuesday after cops scuffled with Muslims upset that women wearing head scarves were barred from the rides, witnesses said.

The Westchester County park was packed with Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr - the holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

One woman, Entisai Ali, began arguing with cops over the amusement park's head scarf, or hijab, rule, said Dena Meawad, 18, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The ban, which is not Muslim specific, was imposed about 3 years ago mostly to prevent hats from falling onto the tracks of roller coasters and other rides, park officials said.

"The cops started getting loud with her and she started getting loud, too. They pushed her on the ground and arrested her," Meawad said.

Her cousin, Kareem Meawad, 17, went to try to protect the woman and was beaten by cops and also arrested, she added. Her brother, Issam Meawad, 20, was pushed to the ground and taken into custody when he tried to help his cousin, she said.

"She just wanted to get on a ride. That was it," Dena Meawad said of the initial confrontation. "It's clear, this all happened because we're Muslim."

John Hodges, chief inspector of Westchester County Public Safety, insisted that police did not use excessive force.

He said up to 100 cops from surrounding departments converged on the park.

Two park rangers were injured in the melee, prompting felony assault charges against two people arrested, officials said.

'It's clear, this all happened because we're Muslim,' says Dena Meawad. (Norman Y. Lono for News).

The ugly incident happened just after 1 p.m. The event was organized by the Muslim American Society of New York, and attracted 3,000 Muslims from Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Ali's sister, Ayman Alrabah, 24, of Brooklyn said her husband, brother and father were all tackled by cops and put into handcuffs when they tried to help her sister.

Alrabah said she was unaware of the head-scarf rule until she and her sister tried to get on the park's Dragon Coasters.

"We requested a refund and all of a sudden an argument became a riot," Alrabah said. "Cops came. They were hitting my brother, my dad. My husband was on the floor and they were handcuffing him.

She said her 4-year-old son was "traumatized" by seeing his father arrested.

"They treated us like animals, like we were nothing," Alrabah said. "They came with their dogs and sticks. We came to have fun."

The park was closed for about two hours because of the fracas. It reopened at about 6 p.m.

Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks, said the Muslim American Society of New York was warned in advance of the rule barring head scarves on rides for safety reasons.

"Part of our rules and regulations, which we painstakingly told them over and over again, is that certain rides you cannot wear any sort of headgear," Tartaglia said. "It's a safety issue for us on rides, it could become a projectile."

Many Muslims were given refunds as they left the park disappointed.

"In this heightened state of Islamaphobia, a woman wearing a hajib is an easy target these days," said Zead Ramadan, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations - New York. "Unfortunately, this turned ugly due to a lot of miscommunication."

[Source: New York Daily News]

Well, I am not going to comment on the merit of the case. However, I had a personal encounter of an almost similar incident when I was managing a club in the late eighties. One Sunday afternoon, as I was strolling along the poolside chatting with the guests when suddenly a middle eastern woman jumped into the swimming pool fully clothed. The sight was simply unbelievable. Quickly I signaled the life guard to blow the whistle to get her out but to no avail as the place was noisy with the crowd. I hurriedly ran to the side of the pool, yelled at the lady to get out but she just looked at me and continued with her activity. After a series of stern gestures with my hands, she pulled herself out of the pool and protested quietly to another middle eastern friend who was seated nearby. I went up to the party and told them that it was against the rule to swim fully clothed as it would pose a danger to her and those swimming around her. She probably could end up being drowned. She just smiled and then left for the locker room to change into her dry clothes. The point I am trying to get at is - religion is one thing but does it have to override common sense?


  1. yes not because you all are Muslim but also would be terrorists.

  2. Geronimo,

    You should visit Sunway Lagoon Resort during the months of June to August every year where you will see hundreds of Middle Eastern women in their black hijab playing and swimming fully clothed in the swimming pools. I could not believe my eyes when I first saw this disgusting sight a few years back and kept wondering why the Sunway Lagoon Resort management did not take any action against such disgusting behaviour of these Middle Eastern women. Then I realized that these Middle Eastern "tourists" are all staying at the Sunway hotels. I guess the lure of the Middle Eastern petrol dollars must be so great that the Sunway Lagoon Resort management decided to closed both eyes and look the other way. I also guessed that Sunway Lagoon Resort had to close the Sunway Lagoon Resort park to drain out all the water from their swimming pools and fumigate the entire resort once the Middle Eastern "tourists" end their holidays and head on back to the Middle East. Anyways since then, I have stopped bringing my children to Sunway Lagoon Resort as I don't want them to witness such disgusting behaviour nor catch any unusual skin diseases.

  3. Anonymous [Sept 2], again here I am referring to common sense, this time not to the tourists but the locals like Sunway Lagoon Resort. What if there was an accident, and because of one person, all the money spent on advertising would have come to naughts. Imagine the adverse publicity that goes with it. It is actually akin to playing Russian roulette.

  4. This has nothing to do with religion. Every roller coaster I've been on makes people take off any hats and sunglasses to ride. The same reason cameras or purses are not allowed on the ride.