Muslim woman says Lee’s Summit gun range ordered her to remove hijab
A Missouri gun range violated the civil rights of a Muslim woman by not allowing her to shoot unless she removed a religious head covering, an advocacy group said Thursday.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the U.S. Department of Justice in a letter for a civil rights probe into the denial of services by Frontier Justice during an incident earlier this year at one of their gun ranges located in Lee’s Summit.
"The law demands equal access to public accommodations regardless of your race, color, religion and national origin," said CAIR attorney Zanah Ghalawanji. "So Frontier Justice has disregarded and violated the civil rights protections by actively excluding Muslim women who wear the hijab from their business."
The company, which touts on its website its core values of "Faith, Family and Freedom," has facilities in Lee's Summit and Kansas City, Kansas. It said in an email that head coverings are a safety risk because they could catch the hot brass when firing a firearm.
"It saddens us that anyone would say we are not inclusive, given that we serve all races and religions every single day in all of our stores," Frontier Justice President Bren Brown said in a statement. "We pride ourselves on this fact, and we strongly believe in America and the Second Amendment that is for every single American."
Rania Barakat recounted during a Facebook Live news conference Thursday an incident that unfolded on Jan. 1 at the Frontier Justice gun range in Lee’s Summit when she went with her husband there to shoot.
The couple waited in line for an hour that day, she said, and when they approached the cashier to pay she was told that she must remove her hijab in order to use the facilities. Barakat said she had shot at other gun ranges without having to remove her hijab.
Frontier Justice employees cited the company's dress code policy, which is posted on its website: "Hats, caps, bandanas, or any other head covering will be removed in the facility, except baseball caps facing forward."
Barakat said she was told by the range's manager that it was "a safety issue." She said they left when it became clear they weren't going to let them shoot.
"I've encountered racism before, but it was never to the point someone told me I had to remove my scarf in order to enter a facility or do any type of activity like this," she said. "It was very shocking to both my husband and I."
She later discovered online reviews about Frontier Justice that were written by other Muslim women who had also been told they needed to remove their hijabs to shoot.
"To have this happen to me personally, it was very sad and, you know, frustrating," Barakat said. "And I would never want anyone to go through what I went through."
Moussa Elbayoumy, chairman of the CAIR's Kansas board, said the local chapter had received a number of reports around the same time about that same facility from other Muslim women who were also told they had to remove their hijabs to shoot.
He contended the range's policy is not based on any legitimate safety concerns, but is meant to exclude Muslim women.
"Frontier Justice, you know, says they value faith, family and freedom," Ghalawanji said. "That appears to be their motto, but, however, their actions tell us that they have shown otherwise."