OKLAHOMA CITY — A Tulsa man on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against a Muskogee County store and gun range that posted an anti-Muslim sign last summer.
Raja’ee Fatihah, who works for the state Department of Human Services and serves in the U.S. Army Reserves, brought the suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in Muskogee.
The defendants are Chad Neal and Nicole Mayhorn Neal, who do business as Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range.
The Oktaha business in July posted a sign that read:
“This privately owned business is a Muslim free establishment.
“We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”
Fatihah went to the business in October and was asked to leave after he identified himself as a Muslim, his lawsuit says.
“The defendants armed themselves with handguns and refused to allow Fatihah to use the gun range,” the lawsuit states. “Fatihah was asked if he was at the gun range to commit an act of violence or as part of a jihad.”
The complaint alleges the action of the defendants violated the Civil Acts Right of 1964 and state non-discrimination law.
The lawsuit was brought by the ACLU of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.
Brady Henderson, legal director for the state ACLU, said the issue is no different than a business choosing to discriminate based on race.
“You cannot discriminate based on race, religion, gender, etc.,” Henderson said. “You cannot segregate your business if it is a public place.”
Henderson said he believes the complaint will be successful and a federal court will order the gun range to desegregate its business.
“It will likely be the first forcible desegregation of a business in Oklahoma in, I would say, half a century, perhaps more, at least to my knowledge,” Henderson said.
Whether the sign in question bars Muslims, people of color, women, Christians or Buddhists, “it is just as un-American and fundamentally it is just as wrong,” Henderson said.
Fatihah said he was aware of the sign before going to the gun range, adding that it was one of the reasons he chose to go.
“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.
He said the ACLU and CAIR Oklahoma knew he was going and offered to help should he encounter any trouble at the business.
Chad Neal referred questions to Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“It is about public safety, not religious discrimination,” Muise said.
The law does not require a gun shop or gun range owner to equip or train “the next jihadist or next person who might be a public safety risk,” he said.
The lawsuit is the type of litigation that weakens national and local security, Muise said.
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465