*Last week Muslims in the New York City metropolitan area attempted to celebrate the end of Ramadan at an amusement park. The result was multiple arrests and charges of Islamophobia.
The story was on the front page of the local newspaper and was mentioned in national news outlets. Of course with the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001 approaching, relations with Muslim-Americans are being highlighted and irregularities are more noticeable.
But the reality in this case is much more mundane than an anti-Muslim conspiracy among the police of Westchester County.
The facts of the incident are that women wearing their hajibs were denied access to one of the rides in the park. Disappointed these women gathered support from other Muslims in the park. The discussion of this issue got out of hand and law enforcement officers ultimately used force to control the situation.
Outside of the normal he-said-she-said (there is a dispute about how the physical confrontation began) there is a basic miscommunication at the core of this situation. Park officials have email documentation that they advised leaders of the Muslim group that certain rides prohibited hajibs due to safety concerns. Apparently these prohibitions were not passed along to the rank and file of the group.
It is too late to avoid the physical confrontation; it is too late to avoid negative feelings about law enforcement on the part of New York City area Muslims; and it might even be too late to avoid anti-Muslim sentiments among people in Westchester County.
But it is never too late to sort the issues out. In this example it is not too late for all parties concerned to take their pride down a notch and meet to examine how a day that should have been joyous became so ugly. Muslims in area look at the police as the wrongdoers and perhaps the opposite is true as well. But the real villain is the person(s) who remains unnamed, the person(s) who knew about the prohibition against hijabs but neglected to disclose that fact to the Muslims.
This story is not about Muslims. It is not about police brutality – there have been no claims of excessive force. This is a story about willful miscommunication and the horrible consequences.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book examining American sports culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. He can be reached at [email protected]