April 29--A Muslim group is challenging a ban on the wearing of hijabs by go-kart riders at Boomers, claiming the prohibition amounts to religious discrimination.
Boomers' owner Palace Entertainment says it considers the traditional scarfs that cover a Muslim woman's hair, face and neck to be dangerous. So are turbans, hats, bandanas, bows, yarmulkes and wigs, according to the company's ban on wearing items on one's head while on the go-karts.
Michele Wischmeyer, vice president of marketing for Palace Entertainment, said the company's policy -- in place since 2010 -- is about safety, not race and religion. And instead of picking and choosing which headgear would be allowed, the company has banned all head coverings and neckwear when it comes to its go-kart rides.
"We would ask anybody, if it was any kind of hat, scarf, tie ... any headgear is asked to be removed," she said.
The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calls the safety concerns unfounded, saying hijab-wearing amusement park visitors ride more intense roller coasters at other amusement parks without incident.
Fatima Dadabhoy, civil rights attorney for CAIR's California chapter, said the group has tried for the last year to negotiate a solution with Boomers.
"We're not trying to get around legitimate safety concerns," she said, adding that the group thinks there's a way to come to a "happy accommodation."
The group, along with United Sikhs, will hold press conferences today to discuss complaints they've filed against Boomers with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing last month.
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