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.”

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