LOS ANGELES - Angry calls for boycotting Lowe's Home Improvement, the national hardware chain, are gaining support after the giant retail pulled its ads from a reality TV show on American Muslims, Bikyamasr website reported on Monday, December 12.
Calling the Lowe's decision un-American and naked religious bigotry, Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat from Torrance, started calls for boycotting the giant retail.
The show is about what it's like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face, senator Lieu said in a letter outlining his complaints to Lowe's Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Niblock.
And that kind of discrimination is exactly what's happening here with Lowe's, he added.
Uproar followed a decision by US advertising companies, including Lowe's, to pull their commercials airing during episodes of TLC's "All-American Muslim."
The reality show, All-American Muslim, is an eight-part series that began airing last November.
Focusing on Muslims in Dearborn, the producer said the program is a glimpse into a lifestyle with which most Americans are unfamiliar.
The move followed a campaign led by the Florida Family Association in which it urged companies to pull ads on All-American Muslim.
Following fierce campaigns against the show, the FFA contended that 65 of 67 companies it has targeted have pulled their ads.
These companies included Bank of America, the Campbell Soup Co., Dell, Estee Lauder, General Motors, Goodyear, Green Mountain Coffee, McDonalds, Sears, and Wal-Mart.
Senator Lieu, who previously served in the US military, says Lowe's action "poses a danger to American liberties and values."
"The fact that some people commit murder or other extreme acts in the name of a peaceful religion -- whether Christianity or Islam or Hinduism -- does not somehow give that religion an 'agenda' that would be a 'danger' to 'American liberties and traditional values,'" the letter said.
The North Carolina-based Lowe's issued a statement apologizing for having managed to make some people very unhappy.
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 statement 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.
For many, Lowe's apology was a little consolation.
Angry comments were rising from hip-hop mogul and activist Russell Simmons who called for Lowe's executives to fix the decision, Detroit Free Press reported on Monday.
"This can't happen in America," Simmons said.
"There are American principles at stake here," he said.
"I can't imagine the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, the National Urban League or any organization that fights for their own rights will allow this to happen to any other group because they know they're next."
Simmons, the chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which promotes racial and interfaith harmony, vowed to support Muslims against Lowe's bigotry.
"This is not going to be a Muslim fight," he said.
"I don't want to take my time and start a boycott -- don't make me do that."
Meanwhile, Council on American-Islamic Relations and Shadia Amen-McDermott, who is featured on the show, both posted links on their Facebook pages to a petition, calling on advertisers to continue their support.
As of Sunday morning, the petition had over 4,000 signatures.
"This is NOT about standing up for All-American Muslim - This is about Standing Up Against Bigotry and Hatred in this Country Founded on Peace, Justice, and Equality. Let's Stand United against Bigotry," Amen-McDermott wrote.
Although there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to between 6-8 million Muslims.
According to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender said that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey has also revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least a little prejudice against Muslims.