Headgear Ban Sparks Scuffle with Muslim Women at NY Amusement Park [VIDEO]
A dispute over traditional Muslim headscarves turned violent earlier this week, prompting police to arrest 15 people at a New York amusement park.
On Aug. 30, Rye Playland was filled with about 6,000 visitors, many of whom were celebrating Eid al-Fitr. When park employees told a group of Muslim women that they could not go on certain rides unless they removed their hijabs, the women became unhappy.
Accounts of what happened next vary, but park officials said they were in the process of arranging refunds when several members of the Muslim group began to fight. Another patron said the women got into an argument with security officers about the headgear ban and the situation soon devolved into violence. By the time police arrived and intervened, a melee was in progress, prompting the park to shut down for several hours.
"The incident was very quickly escalating, and the police had no choice to interfere, or it could have turned into a riot," Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of the County Parks Department, said.
Thirteen people were arrested, including three women wearing the hijab, for disorderly conduct. Two others were charged with felony assault after two park rangers sustained minor injuries.
Park officials said they told the Muslim American Society of New York, the group that organized the outing, about the no-headgear policy. Signs on the affected rides also explained that headgear and scarves were forbidden due to safety reasons. Somehow, that information wasn't relayed to the organization's members. The women involved claim they were being targeted by park employees because of their religious views.