August 31st, 2011
07:42 PM ET

Headgear ban sparks melee between police, Muslim park patrons

From Kiran Khalid CNN

Rye, New York (CNN) -What was meant to be a celebration marking the end of Ramadan turned into a melee at an amusement park on Tuesday when a group of Muslim women were told they weren't allowed on certain rides with their headscarves.

Rye Playland was full of visitors celebrating Eid al-Fitr when the festive mood turned angry. Westchester County Police said the women wearing the hijab, a traditional Muslim headscarf, became argumentative when park employees enforced the no-headgear policy and men sprang to their defense.

"(The rule) didn't get relayed to the people who attended, so some people got upset," said Westchester County Police Capt. Thomas Gleason.

Fifteen people were arrested and two charged with felony assault after two park rangers sustained minor injuries.

Among those arrested were three women wearing the hijab. Police shut down the park for several hours during the incident.

"It had to do with headgear. People - patrons - are not allowed to wear headgear on rides for safety reasons," Gleason said.

Zead Ramadan, spokesman for the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said members of the Muslim American Society who had organized the outing asked him to come to the park to mediate. Ramadan said the women felt they had been targeted by park employees because of their religious views.

"They're the most obvious Muslims around because they have hijabs on. They felt they were discriminated against," Ramadan said.

"Maybe there was a level of frustration that went around across the board," Ramadan said. "Then you have the parks people who are trying to explain this and do their job."

Ramadan said he saw a cell-phone video showing police "yanking a hijabi-wearing woman out of the crowd."

"She was very small. They turn her around and throw her down on the ground." Ramadan said that's when the crowd got very angry.

"Nobody was assaulted prior to the police being called, and that in itself is a problem," Ramadan said.

Gleason said he was aware "there was some cell-phone footage and maybe some video,"

"There's no official video that we have released at this time," he said. "There are some videos in the park that we're retaining for our own information."

Gleason said he had seen seen "bits and pieces" of phone footage from the incident.

He said park officials told the Muslim organizers about the headgear ban but that information wasn't relayed to the group of visitors.

Ramadan chalked the whole incident up to "miscommunication."

"The women felt they were being targeted, but in fact these were safety precautions," he said. "And maybe (the park) didn't do the best job in disclosing those precautions."

But Westchester County Parks Deputy Commissioner Peter Tartaglia says the policy was made abundantly clear to the group's organizer, and that the rules are clearly posted.

"We repeatedly told him, because we knew this group would have religious headgear," Tartaglia insisted adding that a refund booth was set up in case anyone objected to the policy, which he said is posted prominently in the park.

"There's a sign at every ride," Tartaglia said. "When you enter the park, there's a height line and it lists headgear policy.

"What triggered the incident was fighting within the group and the subject was why they didn't know the policy," said Tartaglia, adding that he arrived at the scene about 20 minutes after the fight broke out. He said police were called when it appeared the altercation could lead to a riot.

Ride safety precautions posted on its website include the following safety rule:

"Hats must be secured, and jackets/sweaters must be worn properly and not around the waist while on a ride. Some rides do not allow backpacks, purses or head gear of any kind."

Rye Playland, also known as Playland Amusement Park, is located about 17 miles northeast of the Bronx in Westchester County.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Eid al-Fitr • Entertainment • Holidays • Islam • New York • Ramadan • United States

soundoff (328 Responses)
  1. Darwin was right

    RELIGION is so silly and funny. Suppose I were an adherant of a sect that WORSHIPS CATS and this religion demands that we wear TAILS to show our respect for the great CAT GOD in the sky. Golly, I bet we wouldn't be allowed to wear our tails on those rides – DISCRIMINATION!!!! Let's have a holy war against insensitive park police!

    September 1, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      lol! Yea, adults with imaginary friends are always entertaining to watch. It's especially hilarious when when one group vehemently denies the existence of the other group's imaginary friend and vice-versa. The IRONY is rich indeed. Good for laughs.

      Until they start killing each other or interfering with government, of course.

      September 1, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  2. No fool

    The wearing of hjabs is more than a religious expression. When done in a Western country, it is an act of provocation.
    It says: "We know that you hate seeing us here. Just wait until there are enough of us and we no longer need to pretend to be peaceful." In other words, it is a political act. One expert on such matters once wrote: "Islam is politics or it is nothing." His name? the late Ayatollah Khomeini. Incidentally, you could say the same thing about the vast majority of Christian churches, busily flooding Europe and the US with docile people of their own choosing. Usually in the name of refugee resettlement and/or Calculated Charities.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • ann

      that is so stupid. it is not a political statement. its a religious choice. there are alot of muslim women that chose not to wear it.

      September 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  3. Ha

    I am Muslim myself. I agree with most comments here. The Hijab rules and entertainment do not mix well. The purpose of Hijab and its use has been manipulated. Wearing a Hijab does not mean that Muslim women can go every where they want; they should go only to the places with women gathering only. The park management is absolutely right. Most probably these Muslim family went to the rides very first time, and did not know the rules. Second, it was very embarrassing for me to see these women blaming the management and police for religious discrimination.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Awkward Situations

      "Wearing a Hijab does not mean that Muslim women can go every where they want; they should go only to the places with women gathering only."

      You, sir, are a pig.

      (No offense to pigs)

      September 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  4. EnergyBeing3

    If I went to a Muslim country, I would first try to learn some of the language and then learn and follow some of the basic rules in their public places. Why? OUT OF BASIC RESPECT. If it's a public place and it CLEARLY lists the RULES, then by all means follow those rules OR LEAVE!!!

    September 1, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  5. jay in florida

    Everyone in the park can see and understand the safety reasons behind the ban.... EVERYONE, except Muslims. Islam itself should be banned in America.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • tom

      You should be banned from America for you extreme views.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • C Reason

      So should Christianity. Violent, hateful religion that teaches you should eat flesh and drink blood. LOL

      September 1, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  6. Ken

    I think that many of these cultures have a problem with "miscommunication." It has to do with complete ignorance. You're here in America. We do not act like animals and we ask that you do not either. It's one thing if these people saw others with hats going on rides and were upset that they couldn't while others can... but I bet they didnt. I am forever baffled at how minority cultures come here... and expect "home rules" and then act like complete fools when they dont get their way. Lets keep Americans in America and stop openly accepting anyone and everyone despite the fact that they are not "America Trained."

    September 1, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  7. McBain


    Having been in numerous muslim countries. Yes, you can ( with some very notable exceptions - Iran, in particular)

    September 1, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  8. JT

    Are Jews allowed to wear their little skull caps on these rides?

    September 1, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  9. Brom

    Some of the headlines for this story say that the park had a "headscarf" ban, making it sound like it's directed at Muslims, when that's clearly not the case. It's an across-the-board ban of headgear of any kind. A white man with a Yankees cap would have been told the same thing – and he wouldn't have made a fuss about it. I doubt that a Jew with a yarmulke would have raised such a fuss. It's not even that they couldn't wear headgear in the park – just not on certain rides. The safety concerns make sense. I'm finding it hard to fault the park for having this rule.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  10. JPX

    Why the hell would women want to wear that stupid, oppressive symbol? They should be thrilled with this law.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • cameron

      why do nuns wear that stupid thing on their head. they must be thrilled at this park as well. oh wait, its ok for nuns to wear it as a sign of piety

      September 1, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  11. Maria

    Just curious.. would they have let someone who was wearing a yarmulke on?

    September 1, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • loreeeebeeeeeee

      If you can read, the answer is no. No headgear of any kind.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • j2011

      Its a great question. Also, can sikhs wear turbins, etc. If these groups have been asked to remove their head coverings then the moslem women really have no ground to stand on.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  12. us1776

    Islam is a very disruptive religion.

    Islam did not undergo a "reformation" as most religions have done and as a result the dress standards are still those of a thousand years ago.

    Islam is a religion in dire need of a "reformation" to make it compatible with modern societies.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Nostradamus

      and what is your oh-so-reformed religion?

      September 1, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • C Reason

      lol you mean like Christianity which teaches you should eat Jesus, drink his blood and that the earth was made in 7 days and gays are evil, slavery is A-OK?

      September 1, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • ann

      religion is not supposed to be reformed. so ur following a religion based on "if i dont like it cut it out, GOD wont know"????

      September 1, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  13. Osama

    I think Mr. Ramadan is a good spokeman....the rules are the rules, though I agree they can be bent, I can see a Hijab being a safety risk on a roller coaster because it could get caught in the ride...i usually support my muslim sisters, but this time, they should have either complied, or wore a special hijab, or didnt go on the roller coaster...they had many choices here...but anyways, im sure some anti-muslims pounced on this opportunity to kick muslims out!

    September 1, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • puckthecat

      You know I was with you until you put in that little dig at the end of your statement...'I'm sure some jumped in'...you made a strong point but you lowered yourself in the end by trying to point the finger at others.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  14. john smith

    The Muslims who were attacked by the police are actually very lucky. They will get a large settlement from the city of New York in about 3 or 4 years. Police should be held accountable for their aggressiveness. The police who pushed that small woman to the ground so forcefully, like she was attacking them with a gun or something need to be fired. I also call on everyone to boycott Rye play land. If they do not fire the people who were saying hateful things to the muslim women.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • squeegeethree

      They weren't NYC police. This happened in New York State, not NYC.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  15. Rich

    The safety side of the headwear is obvious and has been well discussed. I am more interested in the violence that the Muslim people created. Why it is almost like gangs. Ever seen a place that won't allow "colors"? Well maybe these Muslims are kinda like gangs. They were asked to comply with rules that apply to everyone and had to resort to violence when they didn't get their way. WOW!, move over cripts and bloods, here come the muslims.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • jaysunstar

      That's no joke. It is already like that in some countries in Europe. And yes they have that group sheep mentality because they are scared when they are by themselves, but when they have a group, suddenly they become brave. Just like African American thugs.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Karl

      Yeah Jay, like the KKK or Aryan Nation to speak of a few. Right?

      September 1, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  16. Chris Honry

    This is what is ahead for America- fighting against Muslims in our own country. People have been wrongly taught by the LIberals that they have the right to do anything they want to do. No one teaches the "general welfare" any more.

    September 1, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • OldGoat

      Er...ah...amen to that. 🙂

      September 1, 2011 at 11:05 am |
  17. thinker

    Thank you, MacMaven. You are so right. May the Invisible Pink Unicorn be with you.

    September 1, 2011 at 10:59 am |
  18. Ken

    Holy Crap! Are we a nation of tolerance? After reading the comments, I never knew so many Americans suffer from Islamophobia. Ninety percent of the comments are full of racism and hatred towards Muslims.

    September 1, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Robert

      Actually most of the comments are focused towards the religion that believes they don't have to follow the most basic of rules just because they are Muslim. That's not "Islamophobia".

      If it was people were to say they are afraid of Muslims because of what they believe in that would be Islamophobia.

      Nice try though.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • John

      I have no problems with peaceful Muslims, but I have problems when their holy book the Quran tells them that their religion is the only one and all infidels must "DIE!" that is when I have problems. Then can practice their religion at the Mosques, but when they are out in public be expected to be treated like everyone else.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Robert

      What race are Muslims?

      September 1, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Scarf

      Fact 1 – USA most tolerant nation on Earth.
      Fact 2 – This rule applies to all regardless of religious affiliation so obviously not discriminatory.
      Fact 3 – If you don't like the rules or laws here, you can always leave anytime.

      And if you are a Muslim and play the Islam card when inappropriate, don't expect sympathy from the vast majority here.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • OldGoat

      I didn't see any "Islamophobia" in any comment posted here. Mostly what I saw are people objecting to one religious group's insistence that it's their way or no way. These Muslims insist they are Americans, yet they continue to behave like they are in the old country and they wear the uniform of the Middle East. You can't fault others for objecting to such behavior. If the Muslims don't like it, pack up and go back to the old country.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • ann

      @john, it doesnt say infidels must die. it says defend ur rite to practice ur religion if u fear ur rite is in jepardy. the Quran recognizes christianity and judaism. and if u check ur history u will see that in the day of Mohamed christians and muslims worshipped their own Gods rita along side each other in the same building of worship.

      September 1, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  19. Robert

    More proof that Muslims are good for nothing but fighting and blowing crap up.

    Ride height – not if you're a Muslim.
    Wear your safety belt – not if you're a Muslim.
    No items that might get caught in the ride and KILL YOU – not if you're a Muslim.

    No, lets get into a fight with the minimum wage workers. Here's an idea, follow the rules like everyone else.

    September 1, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Steve

      Sounds like somebody lost his girlfriend to a Muslim. I find your fear amusing.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Robert

      That's all you got? Fear? Are you sure you can read and comprehend? I'm not so sure you that you can.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • OldGoat

      Sounds like somebody lost his girlfriend to a Muslim. I find your fear amusing.

      And I find your moronic statement equally amusing. He's right: these people evidently felt the rules did not apply to them.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  20. jampalm

    I think if you want to have the comfort of dressing with your headgears at all times you should stay in your muslim countries. Here there are rules and regulations as to where you can go with your headgears I cannot walk openly with a Torah or a Bible in your countries neither could I wear my cross or Davidic pendant in your country. Here you are only arrested for your stubborness, lucky you. Would I be given that same chance in your muslim countries ?

    September 1, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Marie

      That is quite a good point.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • holycrap

      majority if not all of you need to go back and attend elimentary school..the school system has failed miserably. why so much fascination as to what a woman wears and who the hell are you to dictate what any person wears as long as there is no indecent exposure!!. Do you go around and complain when a feminist wears a headscarve..no you call it a fashion (oh by the way you might even call it American). do you cry wolf when a christian, jewish, hindu, or any other faith woman wears a headgear ( don't think so)..but you single out these ppl..that's Islamophobia. majority of you keep telling the same thing for them to get the hell out of this Country..who the hell are you to tell..they have every right to be here and probably more as majority of them are born here and are American.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:58 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.