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April 23, 2019
MUSKOGEE — After a lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Oklahoma chapter, a gun range that posted a notice declaring the business to be a “Muslim free establishment” has taken down its discriminatory sign and has agreed to serve Muslim customers. As a result of the change, the parties today filed a stipulated dismissal of the lawsuit.
The change comes three years after plaintiff Raja’ee Fatihah, a Muslim U.S. Army reservist, sued the owners of the Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range in Oktaha, Okla., for violating federal public accommodations law after they turned him away from their business because of his Islamic faith. In 2015, the owners had posted a sign identifying their business as a “MUSLIM FREE ESTABLISHMENT!!!”
“We are pleased that the defendants in this case decided to take down their anti-Muslim sign, and that they affirmed their commitment to complying with the law,” said Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney for the Project on Freedom of Religion and Belief at the ACLU. “No customer should be excluded from a business based solely on their faith.”
The owners recently revealed that they had removed their religiously discriminatory sign in December 2018. And last week, they affirmed they do not intend to repost the sign, and that they will not exclude Muslims from their business, noting they have already served at least one customer whom they knew to be Muslim.
Jill Webb, legal director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, lauded the development. “The passage of laws barring discrimination by public accommodations marked the end of a shameful era in American history when entire groups of people were excluded from spaces otherwise open to the public simply because of the color of their skin, their ethnic heritage, or their faith. We cannot return to an era where these affronts to basic human dignity once again become common.”
Veronica Laizure, civil rights director of CAIR Oklahoma, added, “Muslims are an integral part of communities across Oklahoma. Discriminating against them is not only unlawful, it’s un-American and runs counter to the religious-freedom principles on which our country was founded.”