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Muslims File Complaint Against Boomers for Not Allowing Hijabs on Go-Carts

Newport Beach-based Palace Entertainment company officials say it's a safety issue.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Area Muslims have filed state discrimination complaints that the Boomers family entertainment center in Irvine has refused to let female visitors wear hijabs while riding go-carts, but company officials say it's a safety issue.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the UNITED SIKHS organization will hold a news conference Tuesday to outline complaints against Boomers, which is owned by Newport Beach-based Palace Entertainment. The San Francisco chapter and the national office of CAIR filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing today.

A complaint against the Irvine location was filed last month.

On March 17, 2013, two women went to the Boomers in Irvine with their four daughters and two sons, said CAIR-LA's civil rights coordinator, Sammar Miqbel.

"The children waited a half-hour in line, but when they got up to the front the attendant told them they were not allowed to ride on the go-cart with a scarf around the neck," Miqbel said.

The children tried but failed to assure the employee that they had never had a problem before riding the go-carts with the religious head-dress, Miqbel said.

In June 2013, Muslim girls on a field trip from a local elementary school were told at the Irvine location they could not wear hijabs on the go-carts, Miqbel said.

Female Muslims are required to wear hijabs in public for "modesty" reasons, CAIR officials say.

The civil rights organization has received seven complaints in California and one out-of-state. Three Sikh men in the Northern California town of Livermore were told they would have to take off their turbans before riding go-carts, Miqbel said.

CAIR has tried to negotiate a compromise for the past six months, Miqbel said.

"We were optimistic we would reach a resolution," Miqbel said. "But we've reached a point where they're not proceeding in good faith to find an accommodation that would work for everybody."

Michele Wischmeyer, vice president of marketing and sales for Palace Entertainment, said the issue is one of safety.

"It is a matter of safety, and we ask that all head wear be removed," Wischmeyer said. "It doesn't matter if it's religious headwear or a wig or a baseball cap or visor or scarf or bandana."

Company officials warn on the website that head gear and long hair can get tangled up in the wheels of the go-carts.

"Our stance is safety is our number one priority," Wischmeyer said. "It is not a matter of race or religion. It's a matter of safety."

Miqbel said CAIR agrees with the priority on safety.

"We share their safety concerns as well, and we don't want to do anything that would jeopardize the safety of our community members and anybody else's safety, but we feel all these other amusement parks with more intense rides have addressed the safety concerns and allowed people with religious head gear on their rides, and we feel Boomers should be able to do the same," Miqbel said.

--City News Service


MFriedrich April 30, 2014 at 12:36 PM
It's entirely possible that Boomers genuinely cares about the safety of its patrons, including Muslim and Sikhs, based on rather horrific evidence: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/gokart-hijab-tragedy-woman-was-the-best-20100409-rwsg.html "But what was meant to be a fun holiday turned to tragedy when her hijab became entangled with the go-kart she was driving at Port Stephens Go-Karts yesterday afternoon. She died in John Hunter Hospital after suffering severe neck and throat injuries. Her aunt, who asked not to be named, said: "You can't describe Mariam. She was the best."
Smokey Bear April 30, 2014 at 03:37 PM
Yeah, if they don't like that we have rules then they can just go back to where their from!
Eric Fisher May 04, 2014 at 04:51 PM
Every time this comes up I say the same thing: Look up a woman named Isadora Duncan and the way that she died. This is a solid safety issue. Nothing else.

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