The man who walked into an Oklahoma gun range was a former officer with a campus police department, and an Army reservist. But once he mentioned to the gun range owners he was Muslim, Raja'ee Fatihah was accused of waging jihad and planning murder, then asked to leave.
The Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range in Muskogee County, Oklahoma, had posted a sign outside: "This privately owned business is a MUSLIM FREE establishment."
Fatihah has now sued. According to his lawsuit, when he first walked into the gun range he was only asked to fill out a liability waiver in order to shoot. But once he mentioned his religion, the shop owners, Nicole and Chad Neal, became hostile.
They "armed themselves with handguns" and refused to allow Fatihah to use the range, according to court documents. They asked him "if he was at the gun range to commit an act of violence or as part of a 'jihad.'" Then the Neals accused Fatihah of plotting to murder them, as required by "your shariah law," according to the lawsuit.
Finally, they told him that the gun range — which advertises to the public and offers day passes for a single visit — was by membership only, and he'd have to fill out an application in order to use their guns. Fatihah says never heard back, even after calling to check on the status of his application.
The American Freedom Law Center, which has represented anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Gellar, is defending the Neals. Attorney Robert Muise told the Associated Press that Fatihah was denied service because he was "belligerent."
This isn't even the only gun range to bar Muslims
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids businesses that serve the public to discriminate based on religion. But the Save Yourself gun range isn't the only firearms business that has explicitly barred Muslims.
A gun store in Kentucky posted a sign that said "Muslim-Free gun store," which the shop owners said was an exercise of their "freedom of speech." A New York gun store owner announced on Facebook that he'd no longer sell guns to Muslims because he couldn't distinguish between law-abiding people and terrorists.
The Gun Cave, a firing range in Hot Springs, Arkansas, proclaimed itself a "Muslim-free zone" in 2014; in 2015, it turned away a South Asian college student and his father. Florida Gun Supply in Inverness, Florida, announced it would ban Muslims from its premises.
CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) sued Florida Gun Supply as well, but the lawsuit was dismissed because no one had actually been turned away. The store promptly began selling stickers that said "MFZ" — Muslim Free Zone.
This isn't just a problem for the owners of one (or four) gun shops. American non-Muslims are more fearful of all Muslims than they used to be, and that's translating into more discrimination and perhaps even violence.
This has manifested itself as protests, vandalism, and sometimes attacks at mosques; in the suspension of a 14-year-old Texas Muslim boy who brought a homemade clock to school and was accused of making a bomb; in anti-Muslim rants on Fox News and among some commentators on the left, such as Bill Maher; and in Donald Trump's proposals to ban Muslims from entering the US.