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Fighting racism and stereotypes one gun shop at a time

Cross-posted from Eclectablog.

After receiving complaints from various folks in the Royal Oak area, Dawud Walid,
executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR) paid a visit to Target Sports and found them selling a target depicting a skeleton wearing a turban and traditional Muslim clothing. He purchased a couple of the targets and then had a conversation with the store owner, Ray Jihad. By the time their conversation ended, Jihad had agreed to stop selling the shooting targets.

Here is what the targets look like (image courtesy of CAIR):

Dawud Walid is with the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says he bought a couple of the targets at a Royal Oak gun shop.

Walid says he introduced himself to the store owner, and explained his concern that the targets could encourage violence against Muslims.

"We don't want someone going to the gun range, perhaps someone who's emotionally disturbed or angry, and sees an area Muslim, who's just like this target, and maybe show some sort of animus towards them, or even violence," Walid says.

The gun store owner agreed to stop selling the targets.

"It was a very friendly conversation," Walid says.

Walid also spoke to the Ohio manufacturer, Thompson Targets.

"We'll be sending them something in writing, and hopefully they'll consider discontinuing making this disturbing target," Walid says.

Walid told the Detroit Free Press that this is less an issue about being offended and more about a legitimate concern for the safety of Muslims in Michigan and elsewhere:
The targets, manufactured by Thompson Targets in Canton Ohio, are shipped throughout the country, and Walid was checking with other gun shops in metro-Detroit to see if they are carrying them. “Our concern isn’t primarily being offended,” he said. “It’s a safety issue. In metro-Detroit, there are law abiding, peaceful Muslims walking the streets of Hamtramck and Detroit who are dressed like this in the target. It is problematic. There seems to be a dehumanization of Muslims.”
He had more on this in the Detroit News:
"We welcome the decision of Target Sports to discontinue selling such targets, which could have the effect of perpetuating misconceptions that Muslims, in particular those wearing certain attire, are to be viewed as a threat that should be eliminated." {...}

"It's provocative and dangerous," said Walid. "There are law-abiding Muslims in this area who dress like this minus the AK-47. With the incredible surge of gun violence, an unstable person can see a Detroit-area Muslim as a potential target for shooting."

It's a bit astonishing that any store, particularly in southeastern Michigan which has a large population of Muslims, would sell such a provocative item. With the ever-increasing rise in gun violence as well as anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from extremists across the country, these targets serve only to fan the flames of fringe elements that see all Muslims as enemies rather than as neighbors and fellow citizens, fellow Michiganders.

Kudos to Walid and CAIR for taking this issue on and doing so in a respectful but direct fashion.

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