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Muslim, Sikh Groups File Complaints Over Head Scarf Policy At OC Theme Park

ANAHEIM ( — An Orange County amusement park faced allegations Tuesday that Muslim and Sikh park attendees wearing religious headgear were denied access to riding Go-Karts due to "safety concerns", according to court filings.

The complaints were filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against Boomers!, which is owned by Newport Beach-based Palace Entertainment. A complaint against the Irvine location was filed last month.

Officials with the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) and UNITED SIKHS say one alleged incident in March 2013 involved two women who went to the Boomers in Irvine with their four daughters and two sons.

"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," said CAIR-LA's civil rights coordinator, Sammar Miqbel.

According to Miqbel, 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."

Another alleged incident took place last June when Muslim girls on a field trip from a local elementary school were told at the Irvine location they could not wear hijabs - which are Islamic headscarves - on the go-carts, Miqbel said.

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

According to the company's website (PDF), all types of headgear - ranging from hats and bandanas to scarves, turbans, and yarmulkes - are strictly forbidden due to choking hazards and other risks. The policy even extends to cancer patients or others with a medical condition resulting in hair loss and the subsequent wearing of a head scarf.

"Our stance is safety is our number one priority," said Michele Wischmeyer, vice president of marketing and sales for Palace
Entertainment. "It is not a matter of race or religion. It's a matter of safety."

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