(Photo: REUTERS/Rick Wilking)
Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike are speaking out against Lowe’s Hardware Store’s decision to pull advertisement from the TLC television show “All American Muslim.” On Saturday, demonstrations in front of various Lowe’s locations across the country will seek to raise awareness against the perceived bigotry behind the chain’s decision.
“We stand against Lowe’s decision. We feel corporations have the right to make their own decisions regarding their advertising. But when you are basing that decision on a fringe group and their hatred and bigotry then that’s wrong. They (Lowe’s) buckled,” Abed Ayoub, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told The Christian Post.
“We’ve seen Christian groups as well as Jewish and other interfaith groups come out and stand up against this bigotry. It’s been a very diverse show of support.”
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee will be among the groups protesting outside a Lowe’s store in Allen Park, Mich., on Saturday, right outside of Dearborn where the contested television show is filmed. Leaders from all faiths are expected to attend. Among the groups leading the demonstration are the African American Ministers Leadership Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the People for the American Way Foundation.
People for the American Way issued an invitation on their website for supporters to join in on the protest against Lowe’s “decision to cave into hate.”
The Florida Family Association contacted companies to stop advertising on the TLC show. According to FFA, 75 companies pulled their ads from the Dec. 11 and 12 episodes of “All-American Muslim.” The group has chosen not to list the names of the companies because of the “intense scrutiny by opponents.”
Lowe's stated in a tweet last week that they did not pull their ads "based solely on the complaints or emails of any one group."
"It is never our intent to alienate anyone. Lowe’s values diversity of thought in everyone, including our employees and prospective customers."
The Rev. Charles Williams of Historic King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit called FFA a "fringe group trying to spread hatred."
“There’s a misperception that these fringe groups represent the ideals and perspectives of conservatives and Christians. They are not the authority on Christianity and do not have the moral compass to be one,” he said.
Williams believes FFA is drumming up “Islamaphobia” as a way to reach their extreme political agenda.
The Detroit minister argues that FFA is spreading the “misperception that Christians are intolerant of Islam.” He went on to say that the Christian and Islamic communities in Dearborn have a very good relationship and that they frequently work together on certain issues. Actions like this, Williams said, serve just to drive a wedge between Christianity, the political left and right, and society as a whole.
“It does no good for anyone.”
The FFA has argued that “All-American Muslim” “is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.”
“The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish,” the family group asserted.
“The show fails to mention many Islamic believers’ demeaning treatment of women or great disdain for non-Muslims (infidels).”
Pamela Geller, founder of AtlasShrugs.com, has called the show “severely misleading” because it situates itself as a response to Islamophobia but “doesn't deal with the kind of Muslims who would ever have caused anyone any concern in the first place.”
“If they'd simply have left ‘Islamophobia’ out of it and shown people from a Muslim background living their lives, it might have been an enjoyable show without pretending to deal with larger political and societal issues. Concern about jihad is not a ‘phobia,’ it's common sense.”
While Geller is encouraging support for Lowes amid the controversy, Williams of Detroit is asking Christians not to shop at the home improvement store.
“[As Christians] we cannot be silent on this issue. As consumers, if we are silent and just continue to shop there, it would be like endorsing this decision. As I Christian I cannot do that,” said Williams, an African-American.
“That would be like me, if I were white, going to a deli where I knew they didn’t serve African-Americans. That’s an endorsement.”
“I’ve received thousands of phone calls over the last week from both Muslims and non-Muslims saying that this is discrimination and must be stopped,” he said. “We are speaking out.”
The relationship between Christians and Muslims in America is “not as bad as people think,” according to Williams. But fringe groups on both sides are exacerbating the issues, “drumming up fear and misperceptions,” he said.
“We live in America where everyone has the opportunity to worship anyway they want. Bottom line is if my values and ideologies don’t hurt you or have the ability to infringe upon your rights, then I have the freedom to practice what I believe.”
“All-American Muslim” is a series that follows five Muslim families living in Dearborn in hopes of discounting negative stereotypes that many Muslims have encountered since 9/11. The show premiered in November.