Friday, September 2, 2011

Amusement Park or Abusement Park?

Click here to read article.

A day at an Amusement Park usually brings fun and joy to people of almost any age, but when a group of Muslim women were asked to remove their hijabs, the situation took an ugly turn. What was originally intended as a friendly reminder of park policy, led to an all out brawl, ending with fifteen arrests and the injury of two park rangers.

On August 31, 2011, Rye Amusement Park was hosting an outing of guests celebrating Eid al-Fitr. The situation turned sour however, when three women were prohibited from entering a ride due to their headscarves. Feeling discriminated against because of their religion a group of on looking Muslims called Zead Ramadan, a spokesman for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), to mediate the situation. "They're the most obvious Muslims around because they have hijabs on. They felt they were discriminated against," Ramadan stated. Upon the arrival of the police, County Police Captain Gleason was told that the park officials had forewarned the event organizers of the rules against headgear on rides, and stated that those responsible for the event failed to relay the information to the group. Park officials defended themselves stating that before each ride, riders are presented with height requirements as well as a sign reading, "Some rides do not allow backpacks, purses or head gear of any kind".

In my opinion, the park officials did not violate any rights of the Muslims. Furthermore, prohibiting the Muslim women from wearing their religious garments on the ride was certainly not an attack of any nature against their religion. These ride attendants were simply doing their jobs. I believe a physical altercation ensued because the Muslims felt as though they were being discriminated against. The fault in this situation rests in the hands of the Muslim women. The park attendants asked the women to remove their headscarves for safety reasons just as a precaution. When I am asked to remove my sandals on a ride I do not take offense to such requests. Granted, my sandals hold no religious significance to me as I do not believe removing my sandals will sentence me to a life of eternal damnation. However, if they had I would understand as it would pose a potential safety risk to other passengers on the ride or guests in the immediate area. God forbid the passengers were allowed on with their head garments and something had gone wrong, the company, not the individuals, would have been held fully responsible.

I am sure the ride attendants had nothing against the Muslim guests, they were merely following the safety standards of the park. If the Muslim women had taken the time to stop and read the signs posted before each ride, they would have realized that they were not being discriminated against or treated unfairly, but that rather, the rule is a general park policy that applies to everyone. The sign did not read, “No Muslims!”, it very clearly stated “no headgear of any kind”. In this situation, religion is not a valid excuse to jeopardize the safety of ones self or others on the ride. The company is legally bound to follow certain precautions and the Muslim guests should have been more tolerant of such a policy. According to the article, the Muslim guests were also offered a full refund for their inconvenience. I cannot support or even sympathize for the other side under these circumstances, although I understand their frustration. As for the physical violence that pursued, I am unable to take a side pending further evidence.


Harry R. said...

I agree with Justin that the request of the park officials did not violate the rights of the Muslim women. The rule being enforced attempts to protect the safety of park guests and does not address religious beliefs. This rule focuses solely on safety in an attempt to prevent an accident such as occurred in 2008 at a Six Flags in Georgia when a teenager was decapitated attempting to retrieve a hat lost while on a roller-coaster. ( The Muslim women should have understood the reasoning behind the ruling after talking to park officials and seeing the safety warnings.

David P said...

I as well agree that the park is not discriminating against the Muslim religion or at fault for the fight. Because the park does not allow any headgear whatsoever, including hats, it is not a discrimination or prejudice against their specific religion or practices. Although the article seems to point at the police for starting the fight when they aggressively removed a woman from the crowd and "throe her to the ground," which is when the crowd became physical.
Although the park may have done a poor job clearly explaining their policy, and did not act in the best manor when the women refused, they were not acting in a discriminatory fashion.

Casey K said...

No matter how I try to look at this situation, the only conclusion I can come to is that the Muslim group was wrong. They were obviously at fault in resorting to violence, but the fact that there was a rule against headdresses on rides , and it was an established park rule for the safety of riders, really prevents this from being a religious discrimination case. It is those park employees’ jobs to prevent people from entering the ride with “head gear”. They did not deny the Muslims from entering the ride, they just demanded that they follow the rules, the employees treated them just like they would treat any guest that was wearing head gear. As long as the employees had been asking all riders to remove hats and such, the employees showed no religious discrimination, they just did their jobs.
Though in this specific situation I must side with the amusement park, I am sympathetic to the Muslims. I believe that they resorted to violence because religious discrimination must be a common occurrence in their lives. In order to start an “all out brawl” at an amusement park, they must have to deal with this often. If I were on a vacation and felt as though I was being discriminated against I believe I would get pretty angry as well. Miscommunications like this will continue to happen until Muslims are treated like everyone else in all aspects of life.

Liz Petrillo said...

I share the same opinion with the previous comments. The Muslim costumers were wrong in this situation because the park clearly states the rules regarding safety regulations prior to entering the park. Also Playland must be very strict with their precautions because of the issues that have happened in the past involving deaths revolving around rides lack of safety. Not only was was Playland's decision to not let the Muslims on the ride a way of looking out for the safety of their customers, but a way of looking out for themselves. If Playland continues to have deaths or injuries occur at their amusement park, it will be shut down, therefore leaving fifteen customers unhappy is a lot better than have all of their customers unhappy.

Mike HJ said...

I agree with the above comments, as well as Justin. I feel like these muslim women made a big deal out of a non-issue. It simply is the rule of the park, and those rules are in place to ensure the safety of all patrons enjoying the ride. The park knew that its muslim atendees would be wearing headgear, and they did inform the muslim organizers of the event of the park's regulations regarding such items. I find that it is actually the fault of the organizers because they failed to relay such information on to the muslim attendees.

Sam S said...

I agree with the other posts that the park is not at fault in this situation. The main reason for the park to not allow people to wear “headgear of any kind” is for the riders’ own safety. While I understand why the Muslims felt discriminated against I do not agree with them that it was because of racial discrimination or prejudice. I think that the blame should not be put on the park, but rather the organizers of the event for not communicating to their guests clearly that they would have to follow all rules and regulations of the park.