WASHINGTON, Dec 13: Americans of all faiths and colours have joined US Muslims in protesting a commercial company’s decision to withdraw its ad from a television show which presents Muslims as responsible citizens and good neighbours.
Lowe’s Home Improvement removed their ad after the conservative Christian Florida Family Association called for a boycott.
The group’s president David Katon told the National Public Radio that his group forced Lowe’s to withdraw the ad because the show — All American Muslim — does not depict Muslims as they are.
“Our concern with All American Muslim is that it does not accurately represent the term Muslim, which is a follower of Islam and a follower of Islam believes in radicalisation, the use of Sharia law, which provides for honour killings, mutilation of women and numerous other atrocities to women,” said Mr Katon.
The association asked members to send emails to companies that ran advertisements during the show and claimed that other companies were also pulling out their ads.
The show portrays five Arab-American families in Dearborn, Michigan, including a newlywed couple, a police officer and a high school football coach, living normal lives as others do. Dearborn is known for its Muslim and Arab population.
The channel that runs the show describes All-American Muslim as “a powerful series that goes inside the rarely-seen world of American Muslims to uncover a unique community struggling to balance faith and nationality in a post 9/11 world”.
The campaign against the Muslims alarmed civil rights activists across the United States. By Tuesday, they had collected more than 25,000 signatures on an online petition calling for advertisers not to follow Lowe’s Home in pulling ads from the show.
Keith Ellison, one of only two Muslim congressmen, also signed the petition.
“The success of All-American Muslim shows how ready the country is to learn about Muslims as Americans,” he said in a statement.
“This probably makes hate-mongers uncomfortable — as they should be,” Mr Ellison, a Democrat who site in the House of Representatives for a Minnesota district.
The petition had a positive impact and Tuesday Russell Simmons, a hip-hop Mogul and a practicing Buddhist, said he had bought spots for the next week’s show. He said he wanted to buy time for this week’s show as well but it was sold out.
“Just purchased remaining spots for #allamericanmuslim for next week The show is now sold out! keep your money Lowe’s and we will keep ours,” Mr Simmons tweeted.
Famous American actress, singer, humanitarian, and fashion model, Mia Farrow asked her followers to join her in a boycott of the home improvement chain, tweeting: “Big effort on Twitter to hit Lowe’s where it hurts, Let’s all boycott Lowe’s.”
California state Senator Ted Lieu called the Lowe’s ad pull, “stunning bigotry.”
“I call on Lowe’s to rescind its action and apologise to Americans who are Muslim. If Lowe’s continues its religious bigotry, I will encourage boycotts of Lowe’s and look into legislative remedies,” he wrote.
But Lowe’s stuck to its decision.
“It appears that we managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective — social, political and otherwise — and we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy,” said a statement the company sent to the media.
“As a result we did pull our advertising on this programme. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”
The Michigan director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Dawud Walid, said his group felt “extreme disappointment” but was working on resolving the situation with the help of non-Muslim allies.