New York Theme Park Bans Hijab

Muslims, police scuffle at Rye Playland over amusement park’s head scarf ban; 15 arrests made
Cross-posted from YAHOO! NEWS

NY Daily News

Police on the scene at Playland on Tuesday (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

Police on the scene at Playland on Tuesday (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

Rye Playland was shut down Tuesday after cops scuffled with Muslims upset that women wearing head scarves were barred from the rides, witnesses said.

Fifteen people, including three women, were charged with disorderly conduct and assault in the chaos, authorities said.

The Westchester Countypark was packed with Muslims celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr – the holiday marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

One woman, Entisai Ali, began arguing with cops over the amusement park’s head scarf, or hijab, rule, said Dena Meawad, 18, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

The ban, which is not Muslim specific, was imposed about 3 years ago mostly to prevent hats from falling onto the tracks of roller coasters and other rides, park officials said.

“The cops started getting loud with her and she started getting loud, too. They pushed her on the ground and arrested her,” Meawad said.

Her cousin, Kareem Meawad, 17, went to try to protect the woman and was beaten by cops and also arrested, she added. Her brother, Issam Meawad, 20, was pushed to the ground and taken into custody when he tried to help his cousin, she said.

“She just wanted to get on a ride. That was it,” Dena Meawad said of the initial confrontation. “It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim.”

John Hodges, chief inspector of Westchester County Public Safety, insisted that police did not use excessive force.

He said up to 100 cops from surrounding departments converged on the park.

Two park rangers were injured in the melee, prompting felony assault charges against two people arrested, officials said.

The ugly incident happened just after 1 p.m. The event was organized by the Muslim American Society of New York, and attracted 3,000 Muslims from Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Westchester County.

Ali’s sister, Ayman Alrabah, 24, of Brooklyn said her husband, brother and father were all tackled by cops and put into handcuffs when they tried to help her sister.

Alrabah said she was unaware of the head-scarf rule until she and her sister tried to get on the park’s Dragon Coasters.

“We requested a refund and all of a sudden an argument became a riot,” Alrabah said. “Cops came. They were hitting my brother, my dad. My husband was on the floor and they were handcuffing him.

She said her 4-year-old son was “traumatized” by seeing his father arrested.

“They treated us like animals, like we were nothing,” Alrabah said. “They came with their dogs and sticks. We came to have fun.”

‘It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,’ says Dena Meawad. (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

‘It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,’ says Dena Meawad. (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

The park was closed for about two hours because of the fracas. It reopened at about 6 p.m.

Peter Tartaglia, deputy commissioner of Westchester County Parks, said the Muslim American Society of New York was warned in advance of the rule barring head scarves on rides for safety reasons.

“Part of our rules and regulations, which we painstakingly told them over and over again, is that certain rides you cannot wear any sort of headgear,” Tartaglia said. “It’s a safety issue for us on rides, it could become a projectile.”

Many Muslims were given refunds as they left the park disappointed.

“In this heightened state of Islamaphobia, a woman wearing a hajib is an easy target these days,” said Zead Ramadan, president of the Council on American-Islamic RelationsNew York. “Unfortunately, this turned ugly due to a lot of miscommunication.”

Photos: Top: Police respond to Rye Playland on Tuesday (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

Bottom: ‘It’s clear, this all happened because we’re Muslim,’ says Dena Meawad. (Norman Y. Lono for NY Daily News)

Simple Eid Ideas

Subhanallah, the blessed month of Ramadan has come to an end and this honored guest is leaving us yet again. With the end of Ramadan comes the joyous occasion of Eid. Here are a few tips that will Inshallah help you to make the most of this blessed festival.

Praise Your Lord:

Of course, you should always try to keep your tounge moist with the dhikr remembrance of Allah (swt). However, starting on the night before Eid until the actual Eid Salah you should keep repeating the takbeer of Eid.

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest)

La ilaaha il Allah (There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah)

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest)

Wa lillahii Hamd (and for Allah alone is all Praise)

If you have young children you may also want to encourage them to learn and repeat the takbeer. Children, especially the younger ones, are usually more eager to learn when they are offered an incentive. Since it’s Eid there is nothing wrong with giving your child an extra piece of chocolate or anything else that they may like as a small incentive to further encourage them to learn the takbeer.

Start Your Day on a Sweet Note:

The Prophet (saws) used to eat three dates on Eid ul Fitr before going to pray the Eid Salah. Try to follow this Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (saws) by starting your first day of Eid with a few dates. Dates are rich with potassium and fiber which is sure to keep you full until the end of the Eid Salah.

Dress for the Occasion:

Eid is a joyous and festive occasion. This is the time for you to shine by wearing your best outfit. The Prophet (saws) used to often wear musk. Thus, it is also recommended that Muslim brothers follow this Sunnah by wearing musk or cologne. Muslims women can wear a light body spray or light perfume as well. If you choose to buy a new outfir for Eid make sure that it follows the modesty requirements and that the price is within your means and not too extravagant.

Be Organized and Pre-Plan:
Eid should be a time of joy and peace not a hectic time where you are trying to do too many things. If possible, try to plan ahead of time. Have a family meeting to plan what you are going to do on these three blessed days. If you have kids it’s a great idea to get them involved in the planning process. For example, you can have them make Eid cards for their family and friends which they can distribute during the days of Eid.

Share Eid Celebrations with Your Community:

For those of us that live in the West it is vital that we try to share our Eid celebrations with our non-muslim friends, neighboors, colleagues, etc. in order to help them understand that Muslims also have a special holiday which is very fun and festive. If you work you can take a special treat to work on Eid just to let your co-workers know about this festive Islamic holiday. If you have non-muslim friends Eid is the perfect time to show that you truly care about them by giving them small Eid gifts. If you are in the kitchen cooking up a storm for Eid you might want to set a small portion aside to give to your neighboors. If you’ve never even talked to your neighboors than use these blessed days to greet some of your neighboors and try to establish good relations with them. If your neighboors are non-muslim by establishing good relations with them you can help eradicate some of the misconceptions that they may have about Islam.

Make it Fun for Kids:

It is very important, especially if you live in the West, to make sure that your children have the time of their lives during Eid. O.K. so that might have been a slight exaggeration but make sure that your children look forward to Eid as a fun time for celebration. Since other religions’ holidays such as Christmas and Easter have become so commercialized young Muslim children may be tempted to want to celebrate those holidays. Thus, it is the parents responsibility to make Eid a truly festive occasion. You can do this by giving gifts to your children. You as the parent know your child best so you can be the best judge of what gift to give them. You can also give children the gift of time by spending quality time with them by taking them out for something to eat, going to the movies, the beach, a theme park or anywhere else that kids might like. Even if you are not yet a parent but you have nieces and nephews you can also give them gifts to show your love during Eid.

Forgive and Try to Forget:

Eid is a joyous time not a time for anger and animosity. In the lyrics to Sami Yusuf’s Eid song it says that Eid is a time: “where enemies embrace each other”. Eid is the perfect time for rekindling broken relationships. During your Eid visits, if you come across an individual whom you’re mad at or they’re mad at you try to resolve the situation in a calm and peaceful manner. Don’t wait for them to approach you. You should be the better person by initiating a conversation. Start by greeting them with As-salaamu alaikum, the greeting of peace. If they don’t even respond to your greeting than don’t worry you have made the initiative with good intentions and Inshallah you’ll be rewarded for it. They will be the loser because they have disobeyed the command of our Prophet (saws) in which he said that if a person greets you, you should greet them back with an equal if not better greeting. However, if they do greet you start the conversation with small talk and then gradually approach the area of concern in a peaceful manner. If this situation is the other persons’ fault try to forgive him or her. Remember, that Allah (swt) is the Forgiver and Pardoner and He loves Forgiving and Pardoning so you should do what Allah (swt) loves so that you may please Him. If you are the one at fault apologize. Keep in mind that the sins you committ against your own soul Allah (swt) will forgive but those that you have committed against another person they must forgive you first.

Don’t Overdo It:

Some Muslims go a little overboard during Eid celrbrations by doing haram acts such as dancing in public or drinking alcohol. Ramadan has just passed so do you really want all of your hard work and good deeds to be washed away in a matter of minutes? Most Muslims will answer no to this question so athough Eid is a festive occasion make sure that every part of your celebration is halal. This is not a difficult task because Allah (swt) has made everything halal for us except those few things that are haram. Make your Eid an oppurtunity to earn the pleasure of Allah (swt) and not His anger.

What better way to earn the pleasure of Ar-Rahman than by giving some money to poor Muslims. Not every Muslim is as fortunate as we in the West are. Many Muslims in other parts of the world may not have any food to eat duing Eid. There are several very legitimate Islamic charities to which you can donate. Do some research and find the one that you trust the most. You don’t have to donate a large sum of money if you are not able to. Just donate within your means and Inshallah you will be rewaded for it in this world and the next. For some reason, if you can’t donate than keep your poor Muslim brothers and sisters in your duas. There is a authentic hadith that states that if you make dua for others than this dua will surely beaccepted, Inshallah.