Muskogee County Gun Range A 'Muslim-Free Zone'
MUSKOGEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - There’s a new controversy brewing in Muskogee County after owners of a gun range posted a sign saying the business is a "Muslim-Free Establishment."
The owners posted the sign on the front door and a picture of it on Facebook.
Although the owner has gotten a lot of criticism, he says he reserves the right to refuse business to anyone.
War veteran Chad Neal and Nicole Mayhorn said they opened their survival and tactical gear store and gun range to try to help others.
"We believe, if you are going to carry, you need to practice, and we give them a safe environment to do so," Mayhorn said.
She said, as a business owner, she has the freedom to run it as she pleases; and the sign sends a very clear message about who she doesn't want to serve.
"Our customers deemed it necessary. They wouldn't feel safe being on a range with a Muslim practicing as well," Mayhorn said.
Neal said, "We don't promote hate, we promote safety, and that's one of our practices of being safe."
The sign went up refusing service to Muslims after two shootings at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee - six people died, including the shooter.
"After the Chattanooga attacks, we feel like we shouldn't be arming the terrorist or training the terrorist,” Mayhorn said.
Veronica Laizure with the American-Islamic Relations chapter in Oklahoma said, even though businesses across the nation have put up similar signs, it violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
"We would urge them to reconsider their position, knowing that refusing service to a class of people because of religion is against the law," Laizure said.
She said, although businesses can refuse service to people without a shirt or shoes, they can't discriminate against certain groups.
"This is reflective of Islamophobic themes we have seen in the media and we are constantly combating through our work,” Laizure said.
Neal said, "This is not a religious thing, not a Christian versus Muslim thing, it's a safety thing. It's about keeping people safe.”
"Until the Muslims want to stand with us, then we have to say no Muslims," Mayhorn said.
CAIR said they have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the religious ban many times, but so far no action has been taken.
In a statement CAIR said:
"It is sad to see an Oklahoma business join the clearly illegal movement to deny service to American Muslims, and it is equally sad to note the silence of our government on this denial of religious freedom and equal access to public accommodations.
"As a nation, we rightfully moved past 'whites only' businesses, but our national leaders seem unwilling to challenge 'Muslim-free' public facilities.
"We ask Americans who support constitutional rights to contact the businesses that announce these segregationist policies and urge their owners to follow the law by serving customers of all faiths and background.”
Brady Henderson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma said:
"If the ideas of public segregation and second-class citizenship belong anywhere, they belong in the past. Whether a business's policy is 'no coloreds' or 'no Muslims,' it is making the same choice to put hate and ignorance ahead of traditional American values like freedom and equality. It is important that we as citizens speak out against the growing movement to resurrect Jim Crow."
Businesses in New York, Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas and New Hampshire have already been declared "Muslim-free zones."
CAIR recently called on the U.S. Department of Justice to address the "illegal and un-American phenomenon."
Regardless, the owners will keep the sign up.