By DANIEL HERATY
DEARBORN – The decision to pull ads from the TLC realty series “All-American Muslim” brought a backlash to Lowe’s Home Improvement last week.
The retailer removed advertising from the show after receiving emails from Florida Family Association, a religious group based in Tampa, Fla., urging them to remove the ads.
No phone number was available for the group and an email address listed on the website yielded no response.
Imad Hamad, regional director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said the FFA is irrelevant and would have never attracted national attention if not for the scandal. He added that removing the ads was another example of Islamophobia, and questioned the company’s ethics.
“Lowe’s chose to engage itself in a political and religious debate and I don’t see how they can service their custom ers,” he said. “They claim to value their customers regardless of faith and here you go surrendering to rhetoric.”
According to published reports, Muslim leaders nationwide are considering a boycott of the company and calling for an apology. A protest against the company organized by the African American Leadership Ministers Leadership Council and the Highland Park NAACP was scheduled for 11 a.m. Dec. 17 at the Lowe’s in Allen Park, 23111 Outer Drive.
Suehalia Amen, 19th District Court judicial executive and a cast member of the show, said the ban opens the doors to similar actions. She said that if removing ads can happen to one minority group, it can happen to anther and added that she is against any boycott of Lowe’s. Rather, she hopes the company issues an apology for “bowing to extremists.”
“I think what’s most important is that if you stand for inclusion and diversity, there should have been no response to this type of ignorance,” she said. “They’re not looking at people for who they are.”
Amen added that the backlash has been aimed at Lowe’s because as of press time, it is the only company to specifically remove ads because of the show. Other companies, including Bank of America and General Motors, pulled advertisng since the series began Nov. 13.
Hamad said pulling the ads is not a Muslim issue or an Arab issue, but rather an American values issue that affects the entire country. He said the company owes the community an apology and added that despite Lowe’s actions, which he called “stupid,” fences can still be mended.
“I think this is an opportunity for discussion,” he said. “What they did was an insult, and as a strong believer in dialogue, I hope they will come to their senses and meet with community leadership.”
Hamad said the company needs to be held accountable for its advertising decisions.
“This is a serious offense that Lowe’s chose to commit,” he said. “Americans know better and people cannot be naive about these issues anymore.”
In a statement, Lowe’s defended their actions, and said they “strongly respect” the rights of customers.
“It appears we managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective,” Lowe’s officials said in the release. “We are sincerely sorry.”
(Daniel Heraty can be reached at [email protected])