Accessibility links

Controversy Surrounds Muslim-American Reality TV Show

  • Alex Villarreal

A new controversy over Islam has arisen in the United States, this time over a reality TV show that profiles Muslim Americans and a home improvement chain's decision to pull its advertising from the show. The company, Lowe's, decided to end its ties to the program after a conservative Christian group labeled the show "propaganda" that hides the "danger" of the Islamic agenda.

It's a scene from All-American Muslim...

"I have no concerns about traveling around the anniversary of 9/11," says one young Muslim American woman on the show.

...focused on discrimination.

"It's annoying to walk through an airport and know people are looking at you," she goes on to say.

Muslim-American leaders say the Lowe's home improvement chain's decision to pull ads from the show is more of the same.

"I'm really disappointed, because it promotes hate. It's so un-American. It is bigotry at its core," said Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan state representative.

"I think that it's frankly pitiful that Lowe's corporation, a corporation that touts itself on being inclusive and promoting diversity, would capitulate to bigots," said Dawud Walid of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

All-American Muslim follows five families in Dearborn, Michigan - home to one of the nation's largest Arab-American communities. The channel that airs it, TLC, says it offers an "intimate look" at misconceptions and conflicts the families face.

Lowe's said in a statement it withdrew its advertising after the program became what it called a "lightning rod" for strong political views.

That followed a campaign by the Florida Family Association. The group calls All-American Muslim "propaganda," designed to counter concerns about Muslims by only profiling those who appear to be ordinary people.

VOA's calls to the association were not returned.

Daniel Cox is director of research at the Public Religion Research Institute in Washington. He said the controversy over the show speaks to the public opinion challenges Muslim Americans face.

"American attitudes toward Muslims are changing, but overall there is still a significant level of discomfort. You see this evident in our research and other research," said Cox. "We find that Americans are really divided overall whether they'd be comfortable with a mosque being built in their neighborhood, a Muslim teaching elementary school or a Muslim woman wearing the burqa. And you see an even greater discomfort among certain religious groups like white evangelicals."

Now facing threats of a boycott, Lowe's is not the only company distancing itself from the series. Travel website says it also is stopping its ads, but not because of the Florida Family Association.

One of its reasons: It doesn't think the show is any good.