US & Canada

DIY firm Lowe's in row over Muslim-American reality TV

The Amen family in a promo picture from TLC
Image caption The Amen family of Dearborn includes a fiance who is converting from Catholicism

Home improvement retailer Lowe's is facing criticism after removing advertising from a reality TV show showcasing American Muslims.

The company pulled ads from All-American Muslim after complaints from the Florida Family Association.

The cable TV show portrays the lives of five families in Dearborn, Michigan, a city known for its Muslim and Arab population.

Lowe's issued an apology, but did not say it would re-advertise on the show.

The North Carolina-based company said in a statement it apologised for having "managed to make some people very unhappy".

"It appears that we managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective," the firm said.

"As a result we did pull our advertising on this program. We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance."

In a statement on its website, the Florida Family Association called All-American Muslim "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values".

The association asked members to send emails to companies that ran advertisements during the show.

According to the association, adverts from many other firms are no longer appearing during the programme. However, while many firms buy adverts to run at any time, Lowe's is the only firm to confirm it pulled adverts bought specifically for broadcast during All-American Muslim.

The Learning Channel, which broadcasts the programme, features several reality shows focusing on the everyday lives of subjects viewed by many as controversial or outside the mainstream.

They include a polygamist family in Sister Wives, and the Duggars, a conservative Christian family with 19 children on 19 and Counting.

The channel 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".

'Extreme disappointment'

Keith Ellison, one of only two Muslim congressmen, said withdrawing the advertisements was "disappointing".

"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.

Mr Ellison was among those who signed a petition calling on Lowe's and other advertisers to resist calls to step aside from opponents of the show.

Suehaila Amen, whose family is featured on All-American Muslim, told the Detroit News on Sunday she was disappointed by the retailer's decision.

"I'm saddened that any place of business would succumb to bigots and people trying to perpetuate their negative views on an entire community," she said.

Ted Lieu, a Democratic state senator from California, said he was considering calling for a boycott of Lowe's, a pledge already made by Twitter users using the hashtag #boycottlowes.

"The show is about what it's like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what's happening here with Lowe's," Mr Lieu said.

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.

"I will be picking up the phone tomorrow to some of our friends and allies to explain the situation to them," Mr Walid said on Sunday.

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