By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) - A Florida gun store that proclaimed itself a Muslim-free zone was sued on Wednesday in federal court by the state chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on the grounds that the restriction is discriminatory.
The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale accuses Florida Gun Supply of Inverness of violating the federal public accommodations law and seeks an injunction to stop the discrimination, according to the complaint.
"We just can’t let segregation rear its ugly head in Florida again. This is part of Islamophobia that we need to challenge," said Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of the civil rights group.
Andrew Hallinan, the gun shop's 28-year-old owner, referred calls for comment to his lawyer, Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center. The law firm aggressively seeks to advance and defend the country’s Judeo-Christian heritage, according to its website.
Muise denied that the store had discriminated and called the lawsuit “absolutely bogus.”
Hallinan announced the Muslim-free zone in a video posted on his store’s Facebook page on July 18 in reaction to the deadly shootings at Tennessee military sites by a suspect officials have described as a homegrown extremist.
In a telephone call with Shibly, Hallinan invited him to attend a gun course at his store on July 25 and explain the Koran to him afterward.
Shibly said Hallinan subsequently canceled the meeting.
(Editing By Frank McGurty and Mohammad Zargham)