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Request for DOJ to Investigate “Muslim-Free Zone” Bans by Businesses Nationwide

September 1, 2015
The Honorable Loretta Lynch
Attorney General
Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

RE: Request for DOJ to Investigate "Muslim-Free Zone" Bans by Public Accommodations

Dear Attorney General Lynch:

We the undersigned civil liberties, human rights, immigrant rights, faith, and cultural organizations call on the Department of Justice to investigate whether so-called "Muslim-Free Zones" by places of public accommodation violate federal civil rights laws, particularly Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title II makes clear that it is unlawful for certain establishments to deny any person, "full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation … without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin." 

If such an investigation reveals that an entity has engaged in illegal discrimination, we urge the DOJ Civil Rights Division's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section to bring civil enforcement proceedings against business owners who have violated the law.[1]

Since 2014, a number of U.S. gun shops and firing ranges have publicly declared themselves "Muslim-Free Zones" in Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire. Such declared bans are a clear denial of public accommodation to American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim, based solely on perception of religious beliefs. Several examples of these bans are included in the attachments below. Title II specifically prohibits discrimination by places of entertainment like, in many instances, firing ranges. 

Despite numerous reports of public bans of American Muslims by U.S. businesses, including firing ranges, the DOJ has remained silent in its response to this growing trend of denial of a religious minority's right of equal access to public accommodations.

American businesses posting "Muslim-Free Zone" declarations are no different than the "Whites Only," "No Dogs, No Jews," "No Mexican" and "Irish Need Not Apply" signs that were posted during past shameful periods of our nation's history that we hoped were over.

We look forward to your prompt action in addressing these highly visible displays of public accommodation denials. We also request a meeting with you to further discuss the civil rights impact of these bans and how we can best engage with the DOJ to address current and future discriminatory exclusions by public accommodations.



9to5, National Association of Working Women

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

American Civil Liberties Union

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Center for Community Change

Center for Popular Democracy

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Defending Dissent and Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Fair Immigration Reform Movement, FIRM

Islamic Circle of North America

ICNA Council for Social Justice

Islamic Society of North America

Japanese American Citizens League

League of United Latin American Citizens

Muslim Advocates

Muslim American Society

Muslim Legal Fund of America

Muslim Public Affairs Council

Muslim Ummah of North America


NAFSA: Association of International Educators

National Association of Social Workers

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Council of La Raza, NCLR

National Employment Law Project

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Immigration Law Center

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild

National Korean American Service & Education Consortium

National Network for Arab American Communities

National Partnership for New Americans

National People's Action

National Center for Transgender Equality

Northern Borders Coalition


Rights Working Group

Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, SALDEF

Sikh Coalition

South Asian Americans Leading Together


US Council of Muslim Organizations

Voices For Freedom



Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice

Arkansas United Community Coalition


Causa Oregon

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles

Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition

Commuidades Unidas / Communities United

Consejo de Federaciones Mexicanas

El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos

Florida Immigrant Coalition

Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

Idaho Community Action Network

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Junta for Progressive Action

Latin American Coalition

Maine People's Alliance

Make the Road NY

Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Michigan United

Montana Organizing Project

Nebraska Appleseed

New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrant Rights-MIRA

Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice

Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition

Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste

Progressive Leadership Alliance for Nevada

Promise Arizona

Rights for All People

Somos Un Pueblo Unido

Sunflower Community Action

The New York Immigration Coalition

Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition

Texas Organizing Project


Workers Defense Project

Voces de la Frontera, VOCES


Muslim Free Zone

Example of "Muslim Free" sign posted by the gun store Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gear in Oktaha, Oklahoma.


Muslim Free Zone 2

Example of "Muslim Free" sign posted by the gun store Jace Firearms in Whitesburg, KY.


Muslim Free Zone 3

Facebook post by the hunting and fishing store JJ's Sporting Goods in Saint Johnsville, New York publicly declaring that the shop would no longer sell to Muslims.

[1] DOJ Civil Rights Division, "Combatting Religious Discrimination and Protection Religious Freedom - Religious Discrimination in Public Accommodations," August 6, 2015, Source: http://www.justice.gov/crt/combating-religious-discrimination-and-protecting-religious-freedom-1

CAIR’s New ‘Toxic Hate’ Brief Outlines Violent Tone in Recent U.S. Islamophobia

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 8/7/2015) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today released a new brief, called “Toxic Hate,” indicating that the backlash against this nation’s Muslim community since Daesh (also known as ISIS) murdered two Americans in Syria last August has a “more violent tone” than past spikes in Islamophobic sentiment.

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2015 Rosa Parks Scholarship

The Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) annual Rosa Parks Civil Liberties Scholarship honors the life and work of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks. This year's winner of the $1,000 Rosa Parks Civil Liberties Scholarship will be announced at CAIR's 21st annual banquet on Saturday, October 17th, in Arlington, VA.  The winner of the scholarship must be present to accept the award.  Applicants must respond to the following essay question in 500 words or less:

"Describe an experience that illustrates your connection to advancing equality in America."

In order to qualify, applicants must:

  • Be able to attend CAIR's 21st Annual Fundraising Banquet on Saturday, October 17th, 2015 to receive the award in person
  • Be a resident of the DC, Maryland or Virginia area
  • Answer the essay question above in 500 words or less
  • Be enrolled in, or accepted to, a full-time undergraduate, graduate or professional program of an accredited college or university in the United States for the Fall 2015 semester
  • Submit a resume demonstrating an interest in civil liberties issues and/or community service
  • Submit a bio (150 words or less)
  • Sign the Attestation and Application Signature portion of the application
  • Submit a complete application postmarked no later than 5pm on September 3, 2015

Application deadline: September 3, 2015
click here To download the application:

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