The American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, have filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of a member of the U.S. Army Reserve because the reservist, a Muslim, says he was denied service at a gun range in rural eastern Oklahoma.
The small business at the center of the lawsuit is Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range in tiny Oktaha, Okla. (pop.: 390), reports Tulsa CBS affiliate KOTV.
A sign in the gun range’s storefront reads — still, as of this week — “This privately owned business is a Muslim free establishment!!! We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone!!! Thank you!”
(Other signs declare “We support our troops,” “Don’t tread on my gun rights” and, sensibly, “No media allowed on property.”)
The army reservist, Raja’ee Fatihah, says he was, in fact, denied use of the gun range on the day he visited.
Fatihah, a 29-year-old resident of Tulsa and a board member with CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter, decided to make the hour-long trek to Oktaha after the backwoods gun range made a semi-national splash with its “Muslim free” promise.
CAIR and the ACLU argue that Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range denied Fatihah service because of his religion and, therefore, clearly violated the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as Oklahoma anti-discrimination law.
When Fatihah indicated that he is Muslim, “the owners armed themselves with handguns and asked if he was at the gun range to ‘commit an act of violence or as part of a ‘jihad,'” CAIR and the ACLU claim, according to KOTV.
“I was made to leave on account of my faith,” Fatihah asserted at a press conference this week, according to the Tulsa station.
Brady Henderson, the legal director for ACLU Oklahoma, said the “Muslim free” sign violates the very fiber of America’s being.
“Whether the sign in question says no Muslims, no coloreds, or no women or no Christians or no Buddhists or any other thing — it is just as un-American, and fundamentally, it is just as wrong,” Henderson said, according to KOTV. “What we are going to court to establish is that it is just as illegal.”
“We hope that these owners and others around the country will comply with civil rights law and stop refusing service to customers in this discriminatory and unconstitutional manner,” CAIR-Oklahoma civil rights director Veronica Laizure said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller.
Meanwhile, an attorney defending the rural Oklahoma gun range has painted a very different picture of how Fatihah’s visit unfolded.
The attorney, Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, said Fatihah was asked to leave not because he is Muslim but because he became aggressive and confrontational.
“The only thing the law prohibits is if somebody denies services strictly on the basis of religion, and that didn’t happen here,” Muise said, according to the Army Times.
In a longer statement, which is available on the Facebook page of Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range, Muise claimed that Fatihah “entered the shop with an AK-47 over his shoulder, magazine inserted. The range is an outdoor range and it was pouring rain that day — no one in their right mind (at least no one without a nefarious agenda) would even consider shooting on a day like this. Indeed, the Islamist was the only one at the range that day (and there was an indoor range available to him in Tulsa if he was truly interested in only shooting).”
“The owners then promptly (and rightfully so) did a background check on this guy and found out that he was a board member of CAIR — an organization with strong ties to terrorism — confirming the owners’ suspicions,” Muise also wrote. “We should reward such vigilance.”
In 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation severed ties with CAIR in part because CAIR has been listed by the U.S. government as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme that provided funding to the terror group Hamas.
Muise argues that since Fatihah’s Muslim faith isn’t the only reason the gun range kicked him out, the civil suit has no merit.
CAIR filed a similar lawsuit against a gun store in Florida. A federal judge dismissed that lawsuit because the plaintiffs could not show they suffered any damages.