By Raja'ee Fatihah
When I joined the service five years ago, I did so knowing that I am blessed to be born in America.
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As Americans, we are afforded an amount of physical, economic, and political stability that seems a rarity in today’s world. Surely, as a Muslim American, all it takes is flipping on the evening news to realize that I am considerably freer here than I would be living in many countries across the Muslim world.
But in spite of these rights, experience has taught me that — on the basis of my faith alone — some people will never treat me as a fellow American. Last fall, I was denied service at a commercial gun range in my home state of Oklahoma as a result of the prejudice and misinformation that caused this business to declare itself a “Muslim-free establishment.” Working with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, I filed a federal lawsuit alleging that my civil rights were violated that day.
When I went to the Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gun Range last October, I wasn’t looking for any trouble. As an active Army reservist, I shoot regularly to maintain my proficiency in marksmanship. Like the proud Oklahomans of various faiths, I also enjoy it as a hobby that has nothing to do with my religion. When I got to the counter, I signed the waiver and was preparing to pay my fee as part of standard procedure. But the transaction was never completed because as soon as I identified myself as Muslim, things took a frightening turn.