"Muslims Only!" at Adventure Parks
by Daniel Pipes
The New Jersey branch of the Islamic Circle of North America ("The organization of Islamic Workers!") announces that Sept. 17 will be "The Great Muslim Adventure Day" at the local Six Flags Great Adventure Park. Not only is "This event is designed to provide entertainment for the entire family!" not only will Imam Zaid Shakir lead the Friday prayers at 2 p.m., and not only will the comedy routine "Allah Made Me Funny" show twice, but "Alhamdulillah, the entire park is reserved for Muslims only!" If that message is not clear enough, the advertisement also states "First Time Ever! Entire park exclusively for Muslims!" One wonders how the organizers know who is a Muslim or not. Need one recite the shahada to enter the fairgrounds? It is scandalous that Six Flags – a publicly held corporation whose stock trades on the NYSE – allows such a restriction for access to its property. Oh, and will the employees also have to be Muslim? (September 10, 2004)
Sept. 15, 2004 update: Aaron Klein wrote about the "Muslims only!" policy at Six Flags Great Adventure on Sept. 13 and included a statement from a Six Flags executive stating that the park would be reserved for "Muslims and their friends" (a very different and quite acceptable formulation); Klein also quotes comments by Beila Rabinowitz (who first raised alarms about this issue) and myself disapproving of the ICNA statement. Within hours of his article appearing, Klein today reports, "the ICNA website removed all references to exclusive use of the park," and indeed that is what one finds at its overhauled website. So, good news: entrants to the park will not have to establish their Muslim identities to enter the property.
Sept. 18, 2004 update: Not surprisingly, ICNA misstated what had happened at Six Flags. Here is the New York Times account:
This is obviously self-contradictory. More dismaying yet is that Kristin Siebeneicher, Six Flags' spokeswoman, also distorted what happened. Here again is the Times account: Siebeneicher
This misstates the issue. It was not that the general public was excluded but that ICNA was imposing a "Muslims only!" policy. Why does a publicly held corporation dissemble like this? Surely, that cannot help a company already losing attendance and in financial trouble.
July 22, 2005 update: Here we go again. The Islamic Circle of North America's New Jersey branch announces:
I also have in my possession a paper flyer that uses similar words: "ALL DAY! ENTIRE PARK! RESERVED FOR MUSLIMS!"
Comment: When this formulation was exposed a year ago (see above entries), ICNA cancelled the "Muslims only" restriction and its spokesman reassuringly stated that the event was never intended to exclude others. So, why is it again "reserved for Muslims!" and what does Six Flags, Inc.have to say about this illegal restriction?
Sep. 16, 2005 update: The Newark Star-Ledger reports that, as last year, the park is really not "reserved for Muslims!"
June 30, 2006 update: As usual, things are worse in the United Kingdom. An organization called Islamic Leisure has booked Alton Towers in Staffordshire, the country's largest amusement park, for September 17, 2006, which it calls the "First National Muslim Fun Day." Islamic Leisure boasts "exclusive access for our guests" at the park that day. An Islamic Leisure press released posted by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (a British organization, unconnected to the Los Angeles-based group with the same name) says even more explicitly that the event "has been booked exclusively for our brothers and sisters."
According to an account today in London's Sun, "Non-Muslims phoning the Staffordshire park have been refused tickets." It quotes George Hughes of Crayford, Kent, 19, who rang up for tickets to celebrate a friend's birthday and was refused admission: "I couldn't believe it. It's the only day we can go, yet I can't because I'm not Muslim. Can you imagine all the fuss if there was a Christians-only day? What's the world coming to when people are being banned from flying the St George's flag yet this sort of day is allowed?"
July 11, 2006 update: Amanda Morris and Scott Lee may have booked their two-day wedding celebration at Alton Towers 18 months ago – well before Islamic Leisure rented out the park, but the couple will have to follow Shar‘i dictates, says Yaseen Patel, director of Islamic Leisure. That means married couples cannot take rides together, women must cover their bodies, a ban on music in public places, gaming machines shut down, Halal food only, and no alcohol, as the couple with their 60 guests share the park with as many as 28,000 Muslims. Morris, 30, called it "like a nightmare, we have been planning this for so long and now this happens." To make matters worse, the couple only found out about the problem in June 2006, when Alton Towers sent letters to their guests advising them: "While the park will remain accessible to you on this day, due to the numbers expected you may wish to change your booking." To make up for the inconvenience, Islamic Leisure offered the Morris and Lee two complimentary tickets.
Aug. 2, 2006 update: The "First National Muslim Fun Day" has been cancelled. Alton Towers says Islamic Leisure called it off due to "insufficient ticket sales." That's putting it mildly; according to the Sun, just 1,000 out of 28,000 tickets were sold. Park management understandably said it is "disappointed" that the fun day was canceled.
Aug. 15, 2006 update: Back to ICNA and the Six Flags Park: for the third consecutive year, the ICNA ad for "The Great Muslim Adventure Day," this time on September 15, includes discriminatory language, this time "Alhamdulillah, the entire park is reserved for Muslims!"
Apr. 17, 2008 update: For a similar "Muslim only" problem, but at a municipal swimming pool, see the report on an East London leisure center.
Sep. 27, 2008 update: ICNA has made the best of its having to allow in non-Muslims, according to a news article telling about its rental of the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in New Jersey:
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