A Muslim U.S. Army reservist is suing an Oklahoma gun range — which had a sign declaring itself a “Muslim-Free Zone” – that allegedly turned him away because he is Muslim, the Guardian is reporting.
Raja’ee Fatihah lives in Oklahoma, where he works with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. As an Army reservist, he says, he likes to keep up to speed on his marksmanship. So last fall, he went to Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range in Oktaha, Oklahoma, to fire off a few rounds.
A sign on the door at the gun range declared itself a “Muslim-Free” establishment. Such signs have appeared on other businesses throughout the country, most notably, at Florida Gun Supply in Inverness, Florida.
Fatihah went in anyway.
The anti-Islam sentiment at Save Yourself is apparent from the photos on their Facebook page. A photo posted on the page suggests that Americans coat their currency in bacon grease (Muslims are forbidden from touching pigs or pork products), and the photo is captioned “Stop Islam In America.”
In a guest column on Huffington Post, Fatihah says that he was treated well inside the gun range — that is, until he made it clear that he’s a Muslim.
“The owners of the range grabbed their handguns and demanded to know whether I was there to ‘commit an act of violence’ or as part of a ‘jihad.’ I was nervous about what would happen next, being outnumbered two to one, but I didn’t return the animosity.”
Fatihah, who is a member of the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). With the ACLU’s help, Farihah sued the gun store.
American Freedom Law Center Co-Founder, Robert Muise, who is representing the gun store, paints a different picture of Fatihah’s visit to the gun store that day than Fatihah does. Speaking to KOTV (Tulsa), Muise says that Fatihah went to the gun store that day specifically to cause a scene.
“He showed up on a day when it was pouring rain — this is an outdoor gun range, pouring rain — with an AK47 over his shoulder. Nobody at the gun store asked him what his religion was, they never ask anyone who enters what their religion is. And yet, this individual was confrontational and belligerent.”
The American Freedom Law Center last year represented Florida Gun Supply, in a lawsuit brought against them by CAIR, over their “Muslim-Free Zone” sign. That case was thrown out by a federal judge, who ruled that CAIR couldn’t provide any evidence that any actual Muslims were harmed by the sign.
Brady Henderson, the legal director the Oklahoma chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, says that such signs violate the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as Oklahoma’s anti-discrimination laws.
“Whether the sign in question says ‘no Muslims’ or whether it says ‘no coloreds’ or whether it says ‘no women’ or ‘no Christians’ or ‘no Buddhists’… it is just as un-American and, fundamentally, it is just as wrong.”
Muise, however, sees the signs as protected free speech. He also says that, in Fatihah’s case, the laws don’t apply because Fatihah wasn’t discriminated against.
“The only thing the law prohibits is if somebody denies services strictly on the basis of religion, and that didn’t happen here.”
Do you believe that the Muslim Army reservist has a legitimate complaint against the gun store, or was the whole thing a poorly-executed publicity stunt? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Shutterstock/micah]