America's Lowe's Home Improvement chain has found itself in a tricky spot after pulling its ads from a new reality show on Discovery's TLC cable network, All American Muslim. The action was preceded by pressure from the conservative Florida Family Association, the Associated Press reports.
The FFA claims that the month-old show (it premiered Nov. 13) about five Muslim-American families outside Detroit is "propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values," the AP notes.
However, the pulling of the ads has put a spotlight on Lowe’s that the company surely did not want.
California state senator Ted Lieu called the company’s choice "un-American" and "naked religious bigotry," and is asking consumers to boycott the chain. He also is considering taking legislative action against the store “if Lowe's doesn't apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads.”
"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," Lieu said, according to AP.
"Lowe’s religious discrimination is the equivalent of a company asserting that it is pulling advertising from the Christian Broadcast Network’s 700 Club because the program somehow 'riskily hides' the agenda of Christian radicalized groups such as Aryan Nation," Lieu added, according to the Los Angeles Times. "That assertion would, of course, be utter nonsense and religious bigotry."
Lowe’s has issued a statement acknowledging that it has made a few different groups not so happy. "Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views," the company responded (in a statement posted on its Facebook page — so much for the "Season of Joy" campaign). "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."
However, Leiu isn’t happy with the company’s stance and neither is Dawud Walid, Michigan director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who said he will be calling other religious leaders on Monday to see how non-Muslims are responding to the news. "I will be picking up the phone tomorrow to some of our friends and allies to explain the situation to them," Walid said Sunday, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, CAIR has been retweeting press coverage, as celebrities such as Mia Farrow call for a boycott of the chain, including a link to a petition urging the CEO of Loew's to reconsider the decision.
Hip hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, meanwhile, has been calling for a boycott against Lowe's on his Twitter feed, and announced that his Rush credit card brand has bought up the advertising time that Lowe's gave up on the show.
AP has more on the controversy below.