Challenging the “Muslim Free” Mentality

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

It all started in October of 2015 when a man named Raga’ee Fatihah went to a shooting range in Oklahoma called the Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range to practice shooting. Since he is in the U.S. Army Reserve, he stated that he needed to keep his skills in target practice fresh since he is a marksman. Fair enough. When not on active duty, a U.S. soldier might want to make sure that his military skills are still proficient. When he went to the range, he filled out his name and was about to pay his fee when he stated that he is a Muslim. Immediately, the owners of the business took out their guns and threatened him. Although Fatihah tried to reason with them, they only got more angry. Fatihah did the best thing by leaving.

The owners of the business had made it clear that their target range was a “Muslim Free” zone and therefore not open to Muslims. Fatihah filed a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma against the gun range for violating his rights to use it. The American Civil Liberties Union will prosecute the gun range for violation of Oklahoma’s non-discrimination law as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I hope that Fatihah wins. Regardless of the fear of many Americans for Muslims and Islam, denying anyone a service or a job or threatening them because of their religion is STILL violating a person(s) right to believe in whatever they believe in.

Today there are those who declare their properties and their businesses as “Muslim Free” zones; tomorrow they could just as equally declare their properties and businesses as “Jew Free” zones or “Buddhist Free” zones or “Hindu Free” zones. When you think about it, if you can do one you can do the other. The anger and hysteria of this time can change and later some other religious group may be the next target or the next scapegoat. But it still comes down to the same thing—discriminating against an individual or a group because of their religious beliefs. Fact is that Muslims have been in the United States for well over a century. Whatever the circumstances of the time, to deny an American a basic right or human service because of their race, ethnic group or religion is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and laws we live by. Again I hope that Fatihah wins his case.

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