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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Muslims, police scuffle at Rye Playland over amusement park's head scarf ban; 15 arrests made!


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BY CORINNE LESTCH AND BILL HUTCHINSON, DAILY NEWS WRITERS / Wednesday, August 31st 2011, 4:00 AM.

It's clear, this all happened because we're Muslim,' says Dena Meawad. (Norman  Y. Lono for 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 County Park 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.



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