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‘Muslim-Free’ Shooting Range Faces Civil Rights Lawsuit

Raja'ee Fatihah, center, addresses the media on Feb. 17, 2016 at the Oklahoma  state capitol with the ACLU's Brady Henderson and Ryan Kiesel.
Jacob McCleland
/
KGOU
Raja'ee Fatihah, center, addresses the media on Feb. 17, 2016 at the Oklahoma state capitol with the ACLU's Brady Henderson and Ryan Kiesel.

The owners of a shooting range in eastern Oklahoma are facing a civil rights lawsuit for allegedly denying service to a Muslim customer.

The Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma filed the lawsuit on Wednesday against Chad Neal and Nicole Mayhorn Neal, the owners of Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gear in Oktaha, Oklahoma.

Last summer, the owners posted a sign calling their business “Muslim-free” and that they reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.

Raja’ee Fatihah of Tulsa is an Army Reservist, investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and a CAIR board member. He visited the gun range in October after he learned about the sign. He said the owners were helpful until he informed them that he is Muslim.

“I told him I was a service member to try to communicate to him that there is nothing about me that he needs to fear,” Fatihah said. “The longer we talked, the less willing they were to allow me to use their facilities. Ultimately, they asked me to leave.”

ACLU of Oklahoma legal director Brady Henderson said the shooting range’s sign is a reminder of Oklahoma’s history of segregation.

“What is happening in Oktaha has to have this response for the same reason that throughout the 1950s and 60s and 70s, great leaders challenged segregation all through the south and all through the nation and all through our native Oklahoma,” Henderson said.

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, alleges Fatihah was denied service due to his religion. The complaint alleges the business is “explicitly segregated” and violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Oklahoma anti-discrimination law.

“Now whether the sign in questions says ‘No Muslims’ or whether it says ‘No Coloreds’ or whether it says ‘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.

Chad Neal and Nicole Mayhorn Neal are represented by attorney Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center. Muise said Fatihah was not denied service on the basis of his religion. Muise alleges Fatihah was asked to leave the gun range because we was acting in a belligerent and confrontational manner.

“They took what the appropriate steps were for somebody who runs a gun range and  took a pause say, look, we’re not going to let him take a loaded weapon up to the line,” Muise said.

A federal judge tossed out a similar lawsuit against a gun store owner in Florida last year. In that case, CAIR filed the complaint as an organization. In the Oklahoma case, the complaint was filed on behalf of Fatihah.

 
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Jacob McCleland spent nine years as a reporter and host at public radio station KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Mo. His stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Here & Now, Harvest Public Media and PRI’s The World. Jacob has reported on floods, disappearing languages, crop duster pilots, anvil shooters, Manuel Noriega, mule jumps and more.
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