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Civil rights group drops lawsuit against Oklahoma gun range

By SEAN MURPHYApril 23, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A lawsuit filed on behalf of a Muslim U.S. Army reservist asked to leave a gun range in eastern Oklahoma was dropped on Tuesday, with both sides declaring victory in the case.

Court records show both sides agreed to the dismissal order filed in federal court in Muskogee.

The lawsuit was filed in 2016 on behalf of Raja’ee Fatihah, a Muslim man from Tulsa, against the owners of Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range in the town of Oktaha. The owners, Chad and Nicole Neal, had posted a sign on the business declaring the range 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 Weaver, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Fatihah in the case, along with attorneys for the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

An attorney for the store’s owners, Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, said he and his clients were prepared to take the case to trial when they were notified of the ACLU’s plan to drop the case. Muise has maintained the sign is political free speech and that Muslims were never banned from the business.

“They’ve made it clear that it was a political-protest sign,” Muise said. “The only reason they even kept the sign up as long as they did is because (the Council on American Islamic Relations) sued them, and they refused to be gagged by CAIR.”

Fatihah is a member of CAIR Oklahoma’s board of directors.

Muise said his clients removed the sign in December. They have since replaced it with a new sign declaring the business is a “terrorist free establishment” and includes a ban on anyone with ties to CAIR and several other organizations.

Weaver, the ACLU attorney, said if the Neals put up a sign indicating Muslims are banned, she expects another lawsuit would be filed.

“If they put the sign back up and refuse to serve Muslims because of their Islamic faith, we will be there, ready to take whatever action necessary to defend the rights of many Muslims in Oklahoma,” she said.

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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