In a controversy sure to fuel the accommodation debate, 15 people were arrested on August 30 at Rye Playland, an amusement park in Westchester County, New York, following a melee that involved Muslims objecting to the prohibition of head coverings on certain rides. One young woman's refusal to remove her headscarf apparently led to altercations among Muslims, who then scuffled with security officials. Their legal cases have been adjourned until October.
Despite claims of discrimination, the park's rules on headgear are neutral with respect to faith and have a single goal. "It's a safety issue on rides. If it's a scarf, you could choke," explained Peter Tartaglia, Westchester deputy parks commissioner. Indeed, a Muslim woman was strangled to death last year in Australia when her head covering got caught in the axle of a go-kart.
Five reflections on the hijab fracas at Rye Playland:
Once again we see the no-win situation that often results when multiculturalism and safety concerns collide: enforce the appropriate dress code and risk accusations of bias, or loosen the rules and risk accusations of negligence. Other recreational venues, including an Australian water park and a Connecticut roller rink, have faced this same dilemma.
Claims that the headgear policy is selectively applied to discriminate against Muslims are undercut by an August 31 article in the Journal News. Describing how the park returned to normal the next day, it notes that two Jewish boys were asked to remove their yarmulkes prior to boarding a roller coaster. They did so without causing a scene.
Headscarves are not the only Islamic attire that could prove dangerous on fast-moving rides. Baggy garments, such as those worn by Muslim women photographed at Rye Playland, may require regulation as well.
Islamists have been known to orchestrate incidents for the purpose of gaining sympathy and concessions (e.g., the "flying imams"). With the Muslims' visit having been arranged by a chapter of the Muslim American Society (MAS), an Islamist group closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, this possibility must be considered. Especially curious: organizers had been told about park policy in advance, yet MAS fliers for the event made no mention of headgear restrictions, thus ensuring plenty of irate Muslims that day.
Behold the noxious influence of groups like CAIR on Muslim minds. "This all happened because we're Muslim," charged one of the attendees, demonstrating the Islamist view that anybody who says no to a Muslim must be a bigot. True to form, CAIR responded to the brouhaha by lamenting the "Islamophobia" that allegedly targets covered women.
Amusement parks should set rules based on what they believe to be necessary for the protection of their patrons. Tell Rye Playland (contact here) to keep putting safety first — and ignore those Islamists who put agitation first.