An Oklahoma man in the U.S. Army Reserve who was asked to leave a gun range after identifying himself as Muslim has sued the range's owners.
Raja'ee Fatihah, a 29-year-old Army reservist who also works for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services says the owners of the Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range were pleasant and welcoming to him until he told them he was Muslim, which was when they began to treat him with suspicion, CBS News reports. The business also has a sign posted declaring that it is a "Muslim-free" establishment.
The ACLU filed the lawsuit, which alleges the store's "No Muslims" policy violates Oklahoma's nondiscrimination law, as well as the Civil Rights act of 1964, which prevents businesses from refusing service to customers based on their race, religion or national origin.
ACLU said in a Feb. 17 statement on its website that when Fatihah identified himself as Muslim, the owners armed themselves with handguns, and then asked Fatihah whether he had come to the store to "commit an act of violence or as part of a jihad." The ACLU said Fatihah was then forced to leave the store.
“Turning away customers simply because of their faith is blatantly unlawful and dishonors our nation’s grand commitment to religious freedom and equality,” said Daniel Mach, an ACLU director working on issues about freedom of religion, in the same statement.
Fatihah told KOTV he went to the gun shop after it made national news for banning Muslims, hoping he could convince them that Muslims were nothing to be afraid of, according to CBS.
"I thought that by putting a face to the label of Muslim, and giving them some personal interaction, some personal engagement, I could help them to understand that there was nothing to fear," Fatihah said.
Robert Muise, a lawyer for the gun shop said the shop did not deny service to Fatihah because of his religion, but because he was acting belligerent, a claim that Fatihah denies. Muise also said that the sign declaring the shop a "Muslim-free" business was protected free speech.
"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," said Brady Henderson, legal director for the Oklahoma chapter of the ACLU.