MUSKOGEE, Okla. (CN) – A “Muslim Free” gun range in Oklahoma illegally denied service to a member of the Army Reserve and accused him of being there to murder its owners, the native of Tulsa claims in court.
Raja’ee Fatihah sued Chad Neal and Nicole Neal and their Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range on Wednesday in Federal Court. The Neals own and operate the gun range and store in Oktaha, in Muskogee County.
Fatihah lives with his family in his hometown, Tulsa. He works full time as an investigator for the state, is a member of the Army Reserve, a former police officer for the University of Oklahoma and is a graduate of the ROTC program. But the Neals refused him service because of his religion, he says.
In fact, when he visited the gun range on Oct. 23 last year and Nicole Neal learned he was a Muslim, the Neals “armed themselves with handguns and refused to allow Fatihah to use the gun range,” according to the complaint.
It continues: “Fatihah was asked if he was at the gun range to commit an act of violence or as part of a ‘jihad.’ Fatihah was accused of being there in order to murder the defendants, as defendants claim that ‘[Fatihah’s] Sharia law’ required such an action.” (Brackets in complaint.)
Fatihah says his religion does not require, encourage, or even allow murder.
“Defendants run an explicitly segregated business,” the complaint states. “A sign posted on their business’s front window announces that Muslims are not permitted at defendants’ store and gun range. This store and range is otherwise operated as a place of public accommodation. It is open to, and reliant on, the patronage of the general public.”
Fatihah says he told Nicole Neal he is Muslim after he filled out a liability waiver. She then summoned her husband and they armed themselves and said he would “need to have a membership application processed and approved by members of the ‘gun club.'”
“This is the first time the business was referred to as a club,” the complaint states. “Defendant was then made to leave the gun range without receiving service.”
Fatihah says the Neals’ sign near the front door of their business: “This privately owned business is a Muslim Free establishment! We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone! Thank you!” is still posted.
The gun range could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit. A phone call was not answered Wednesday evening at a number listed on its Facebook profile.
Fatihah seeks damages for civil rights violations and a permanent injunction ordering compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
He is represented by Brady Henderson with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma and Veronica Laizure with the Council on American Islamic Relations of Oklahoma, both of Oklahoma City.
Laizure said the Neals’ ban “isn’t just reprehensible, it’s against the law.”
“We hope that these owners and others around the country will comply with civil rights law and stop refusing service to customers in this manner,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
Henderson said the case is not limited to defending the rights of Muslim-Americans, that it is “about fundamental fairness and freedom.”
“Religious segregation no more belongs in today’s America than racial segregation,” he said. “Whether a sign reads ‘No Muslims’ or ‘No Coloreds,’ it is just as un-American, and just as wrong.”
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