Muslims, police fight at New York theme park over headscarf ban

August 31, 2011

In Riyadh, Saudi women have no problem wearing headscarves on amusement park rides. (HASAN JAMALI/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

About 3,000 Muslims from New York City visited Rye Playland in Westchester County to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan. When they arrived, women wearing headscarves found they could not go on some of the rides, as all headgear is prohibited so that hats don’t fall onto the tracks.

When families lined up to get refunds, fights broke out and police arrived on the scene, the New York Daily News reports.

Fifteen visitors were arrested and two more were charged with felony assault. Several Muslim families said the police used excessive force and attacked women.

“It's clear this all happened because we're Muslim,” Dena Meawad, 18, told the Daily News.

It may have also happened because of lack of organization. The event was organized by the Muslim American Society of New York, who police said had been warned about the ban, but failed to tell travelers.

Zead Ramadan, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in New York, blames the ugly scene on “a lot of miscommunication.”

But many of the visitors aren’t convinced. Ayman Alrabah, 24, who said her husband, brother and father were tackled by police and handcuffed when they tried to help her sister, told the Daily News the police treated them “like animals.”

“They came with their dogs and sticks. We came to have fun,” she said.

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