Tolerance for Intolerance Bruises Lowe’s

Poor Lowe’s. The do-it-yourself chain made room in their budget for TLC’s “All-American Muslim,” a reality show about life in the Muslim American community in Dearborn, Mich., but the company ended up catching some focus for supporting a show that depicted Muslims as something besides terrorists. As it turned out, the protest was hardly broad based, with most of it coming from one guy. Still, the Florida Family Association, as David Caton’s Web site is called, claimed 65 companies agreed to stop advertising on “All-America Muslim.” That didn’t turn out to be precisely true.

But Lowe’s pulled back and jumped directly from the frying pan and into the fire. This weekend, Muslims and many non-Muslims in Dearborn showed up in force to protest the decision, according to The Detroit Free Press.

‘About 100 people of various faiths gathered at the Allen-Born Shopping Center on Outer Drive to chastise the hardware giant for what they described as caving to the demands of a right-wing Christian group who said TLC’s “All-American Muslim” does not include depictions of beliefs that appear to promote an anti-American agenda.’

The Florida Family Association ended up with a hacked Web site and the chief executive of Lowe’s is now in receipt of a letter from Congress asking the company to stand up to religious intolerance. And, perhaps worst of all for Lowe’s, a few people came to its defense at protests over the weekend: Armed members of the Michigan Militia.

NY Times Op Ed: An All-American Misstep

It is incredibly sad that one person with his own one-man hate group can tap into anti-Muslim sentiment and lead reputable companies to make foolish judgment calls.

At least two advertisers — Lowe’s, the home-improvement retailer, and Kayak.com, the online travel firm — have pulled commercials from “All-American Muslim,” a new reality series on the TLC cable channel, since the show was condemned by David Caton, an anti-Muslim and anti-gay activist, and the shell organization he founded and runs, the Florida Family Association.

Businesses have a perfect right to decide how to spend their advertising dollars. But, in pulling out as they did, Lowe’s and Kayak sent a distasteful message to their customers, their employees, and to the larger public.

“All-American Muslim” tracks the lives of five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Mich., a suburb of Detroit. Mr. Caton has called on companies to end their sponsorships, arguing that the show is dangerous and misleading “propaganda” because it portrays Muslims as “ordinary folks” just like other law-abiding Americans, not as extremists and terrorists.

Both Lowes and Kayak deny that they were moved to act by Mr. Caton’s campaign, citing instead the show’s controversial nature and, in Kayak’s case, reservations about its quality. “All-American Muslim” may not be the best TV show, but the controversy was manufactured by one man. By appearing to bow to bigotry, the companies earned a self-inflicted black eye.

TLC ‘All American Muslim” controversy

Special Coverage: Lowe’s pulls ads from TV show about U.S. Muslims

A decision by retail giant Lowe’s Cos. to pull ads from a reality show about American Muslims after protests from an evangelical Christian group has sparked criticism and calls for a boycott against the chain of home-improvement stores.

The retailer stopped advertising on TLC’s “All-American Muslim” after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Assn. complained, saying the program was “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” The series, which has been on TLC at 10 p.m. Sunday since mid-November, follows the lives of five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a sizable Muslim population.

The organization says 65 companies have left the show since it began urging advertisers to withdraw their support. Among those that have were Kayak, the travel Web site, and Lowe’s, the home-improvement retailer.

“All-American Muslim” has drawn an average-size audience on TLC on Sundays, typically a very competitive night on television. The series started out in mid-November with 1.7 million viewers, but subsequent episodes have been seen by about one million viewers. There was no noticeable bump on Sunday, a few days after Lowe’s decision first made news.

TLC declined to comment on the matter, other than to say that “there is strong advertiser support for the show.”
A number of politicians have denounced the decision by Lowe’s to withdraw its ads. On CNN on Monday, one of the two Muslim-Americans who have been elected to Congress, Keith Ellison, said the apparent decision by Lowe’s “has demonstrated a degree of fear that they don’t have to possess.”

“They don’t have to be afraid of a fringe group,” said Mr. Ellison, a Minnesota Democrat.
Ted W. Lieu, a California state senator, went further, stating in a letter to Lowe’s on Saturday that “if Lowe’s continues its religious bigotry, I will encourage boycotts of Lowe’s and look into legislative remedies.”
Celebrities including Mia Farrow and Russell Simmons have also supported “All-American Muslim” and criticized the decision by Lowe’s to withdraw from the series.

In a statement on its Facebook page, Lowe’s said it had “a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion” but had pulled its spots from the show because it “became a lightning rod” for “individuals and groups” with “strong political and social views.”

Kayak Defends Cutting Ties to ‘All-American Muslim’

Another company has pulled its ads from TLC’s controversial docu-series “All-American Muslim,” saying it did so because TLC “was not upfront with us about the nature of this show” and was deliberately “trying to pick a fight” over the series. The online travel company Kayak.com also says that its chief marketing officer watched a couple of episodes and thought they were lousy.

Kayak.com got swept up in the story about the decision by the giant home-improvement retail chain Lowe’s to yank its ads from the series, which is about five Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich. Lowe’s had become the target of a campaign by the conservative Florida Family Association, which said the show is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

But on Wednesday, Kayak’s chief marketing officer, Robert Birge, sought to distinguish his company’s decision from Lowe’s: He savaged the Silver Spring-based TLC over its handling of the show in a “We Handled This Poorly” blog post on Kayak’s Web site.

“When TLC pitched ‘All-American Muslim’ to advertisers, it was characterized as a fair-and-balanced look at the life of an American Muslim. However, what was not disclosed was the preexisting controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich.,” Birge said in the statement e-mailed to The TV Column.

Documentary on Muslim school promotes understanding

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Fordson High School in Dearborn, Mich., is similar to many high schools in the state of Oklahoma. The students are energetic and boisterous on occasion, the faculty and staff are supportive of the students and the football team is a source of pride and enthusiasm for the entire school. The story of that school is told in the documentary film “Fordson” that was made by a talented Arab American filmmaker, Rashid Ghazi. Dearborn, Mich., was the site of a large Ford plant in the early decades of the last century and thousands of Arab immigrants, the majority of whom were Muslims, came to work there.

And that community, we are told, is now home to the largest concentration of Muslims in the U.S. Oklahomans should take note that no efforts have been made to introduce Sharia law into the Dearborn municipal code. The images of Dearborn include a variety of small businesses that cater to the Muslims and it explained that those businesses helped to reinvigorate that community after the Ford plant closed years ago.

The story contained in the movie is a familiar one, high school athletes who are supported by family and an inspirational coach, a school principal who can be stern, and a game against a rival team at the end of the season. But the majority of the football team at Fordson and the coach and principal are all Muslims, and while the players struggle during practice to not eat or drink during the daylight hours in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, that is the only discernible difference between this and any other story of a high school football team in the American Heartland.

Florida pastor seeking to protest at Michigan mosque ordered jailed, is later freed on $1 bond

DEARBORN, Mich. — A Florida pastor’s planned demonstration outside a Michigan mosque was scuttled Friday after a jury determined the protest would constitute a breach of the peace and he was briefly jailed for refusing to pay what authorities called a “peace bond.”

The Rev. Terry Jones, whose past rhetoric against Muslims has inflamed anti-Western sentiment in Afghanistan, said he refused to pay the $1 bond because to do so would violate his freedom of speech. He later paid it and was released.

Jones had planned a demonstration Friday evening outside the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit that is home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the nation. An estimated 30,000 people in Dearborn, about a third of the city’s population, trace their roots to the Middle East.

Prosecutors worried the protest would lead to violence and asked Dearborn District Judge Mark Somers to intervene. Somers conducted a one-day jury trial to determine whether Jones would pose a threat to peace. They did, and Somers then ordered Jones and an associate to post the bond to ostensibly cover the costs of police protection.

Terry Jones said Saturday that he plans to file a lawsuit against the Wayne County prosecutor’s office and other government entities in connection with his arrest Friday and the case filed against him over his planned protest.

CBSNews.com: Conservative media pushing fears about Sharia law in America

In an October 13 article, CBSNews.com political reporter Brian Montopoli
notes that the “notion that Sharia law is coming to America has been
percolating in the conservative media for a while.” Montopoli cites
examples from Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade, and Newt Gingrich,
among others. He later reports that “fears of an outbreak of Sharia law
seem overblown at best. Even if there is somehow a serious push for the
imposition of Sharia law – or any other religious law – it would quickly
run up against the first amendment to the Constitution.”

From the CBSNews.com article:

The notion that Sharia law is coming to America has been percolating in
the conservative media for a while. Fox News’ Sean Hannity suggested the
arrest of the Christian missionaries in Dearborn reflected the
possibility that “Sharia law is taking over in Dearborn,” as did Fox
News’ Brian Kilmeade, who interviewed one of the men who was arrested.

At the Values Voters summit in September, Newt Gingrich said – to a
standing ovation – that “[w]e should have a federal law that says Sharia
law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States.” He has also
warned that jihadists are trying “to replace Western civilization with a
radical imposition of Sharia.”

America’s Sharia Hysteria

. . .When [Nevada?s Republican Senatorial candidate Sharron] Angle
suggested last week that certain American cities like Dearborn, Michigan
and Frankford, Texas, have been taken over by a “militant terrorist
situation” wherein Muslims have instituted Sharia law upon its
residents, many people were left scratching their heads at what she
could possibly have meant.

It’s not just that Dearborn is – last anyone checked – still under the
purview of the United States Constitution, or that there is no place in
America called Frankford, Texas (I?m not kidding, look it up). It?s the
rather bizarre notion that there may be a city in this country where the
Constitution does not apply. “It seems to me there is something
fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take
hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States,”
Angle said about the real Dearborn and the imaginary Frankford.

Angle is right. There is something fundamentally wrong with this
idea?it?s not true. There is no city or municipality in this country
where Islamic law has taken hold. And yet, Angle is not the only one
sounding the alarm over an imminent Muslim takeover of America. Indeed,
now that the screeching over the building of the Islamic Community
Center in Lower Manhattan seems to have died down, a new battle cry is
arising from the radical anti-Muslim fringe: American Muslims, they say,
are trying to replace the Constitution with Sharia!

Muslims in Dearborn learn religious and political philosophy to understand how to integrate in US

Led by Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, one of the most revered thinkers in global Shiism, a program called I.M.A.M. deploys scholars and lecturers to help US Shiites integrate into US society. The Dearborn I.M.A.M. group studies sources like the US Federalist Papers, Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” and Joel Osteen’s books, as well as historical issues like slavery in the US. The program tells Shiites to vote, participate in the census, and hold public office without abandoning their faith.

“We call them Islamic values, but they are universal values,” says Bahar al-Uloom, lecturer for the Shiite student group in Dearborn. “If it’s a principle or act that would help all Americans, all I need to do is speak it in a language that is universal.”

Two Canadians arrested tied to controversial U.S. mosque

Two Canadian men wanted by the FBI in connection to a radical mosque in Detroit were arrested by authorities. Yassir Ali Khan, 30, and Mohammad Philistine, 33 – also known as Mohammad Al-Sahli and Mohammad Palestine were wanted following the death of the leader of a fundamentalist Islamic group, who was killed in a shootout with FBI agents after a raid on a warehouse in Dearborn, Mich. The pair were picked up without incident by Windsor police and RCMP’s Immigration Task Force. The Windsor police tactical squad surrounded a house in the southern Ontario city earlier this week to arrest 30-year-old Mujahid Carswell, also known as Mujahid Abdullah, a third man wanted in connection to Detroit mosque. It was Carswell’s father, Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was killed in the shootout with FBI agents.

U.S. authorities allege Abdullah and his followers were part of a Sunni Muslim group with the mission of establishing a separate Islamic nation within the United States.