Lawsuit accuses gun range of making Muslim woman remove hijab to use facility

Range allegedly said it only permits baseball caps ‘facing forward’

Eric Garcia
Thursday 30 December 2021 16:42
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A civil rights organisation that advocates on behalf of American Muslims has filed a lawsuit alleging that a shooting range in Missouri demanded that she remove her hijab.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations Legal Defense Fund, as well as Baldwin and Vernon Law filed a lawsuit on in the US District Court for the Western District of Missouri behalf of Rania Barakat against Frontier Justice in Kansas in Lee Summit.

The lawsuit, which also names Frontier Justice’s owners Mike and Bren Brown as defendants, alleges that while Frontier Justice banned the traditional Muslim headwear while at the same time allowing baseball caps, which essentially denied Muslims admission to the range.

“Defendants Mike and Bren Brown were responsible for devising, implementing, and instructing employees and agents to carry out the discriminatory practices and policies described above at the establishment known as Frontier Justice,” the lawsuit said.

“Consistent with Defendant Mike and Bren Brown’s instructions and their headwear ban, in numerous instances since at least 2016, Defendants have denied Muslims who wear hijab entry to Frontier Justice, based on violations of their dress code policy, while allowing similarly situated individuals who wear headcaps or other clothing that similarly covers the neck and head to enter their facility and access to their services.”

Ms Barakat as a Muslim woman who wears the traditional head scarf that many Muslim women wear and the lawsuit notes how Frontier Justice bills itself as being about “faith, family and freedom,” giving ten percent of its sales to the National Christian Foundation.

The lawsuit alleges that Ms Barakat and her husband visited the range on New Year’s Day in 2020 and that after Ms Barakat filled out the waiver form, a cashier told her that she had to remove her hijab since “hats, caps, bandanas, or any other head covering will be removed in the facility, except baseball caps facing forward”.

Lawyers allege that the range’s manager said the reason for this was that shrapnel can cause the hijab and skin to burn. Subsequently, the lawsuit alleges that the manager was aggressive and loud and the couple left the range.

“The next day, Ms. Barakat and her husband attended another gun range, and discussed the situation. Employees at the new gun range said that Frontier Justice had a reputation for turning away Muslims,” the suit alleges. “They told Ms. Barakat and her husband that they were more than welcome to shoot with her hijab any time.”

Similarly, the suit cites Yelp reviews from other Muslims who said they were denied service because of their hijabs, despite posts on Frontier Justice’s social media accounts showing people wearing winter hats and scarves on necks.

“Additionally, Frontier Justice’s rationale for its head covering policy is pretextual insofar as the policy’s goal is to exclude some Muslims from Defendants’ gun range,” the lawsuit said. “This pretext is evident insofar as Defendants’ policy does not further Defendants’ interest in safety—clothing-covered skin is better protected from shrapnel and shells than exposed skin—and is only applied to Muslims.”

As a result, the lawsuit alleges they discriminated against Ms Barakat on the basis of religion, which would violate the law.

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