My Take: Is ‘All-American Muslim’ begetting all-American bigotry?
One of the families on TLC's "All-American Muslim."
December 12th, 2011
10:29 PM ET

My Take: Is ‘All-American Muslim’ begetting all-American bigotry?

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, global media commentator and author of the book "Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era."

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

Imagine for a moment that a major American corporation decided to remove its commercials from a reality television show highlighting the everyday lives of Latinos, African-Americans, members of the LGBT community or Jewish Americans because of coordinated letter-writing campaigns from right-wing organizations.

If you think this kind of bigotry could not happen in modern-day America, you would be absolutely wrong.

The hardware and building supply chain Lowe’s has pulled its TV commercials from future episodes of TLC’s new reality show “All-American Muslim” after a letter-writing campaign by the Florida Family Association, a Christian group.

The Tampa-based organization has urged companies to pull ads because it alleges the show is “propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.”

This argument is lunacy and is a pretext for bigotry against Muslims, plain and simple. Using this sophomoric logic, the TLC reality show "Sister Wives" is a covert campaign to promote fundamentalist Mormon polygamy across America.

Nonetheless, in response to the growing controversy, Lowe's issued a terribly weak statement (and non-apology) on its Facebook page which states, in part:

“Lowe’s has received a significant amount of communication on this program, from every perspective possible. Individuals and groups have strong political and societal views on this topic, and this program became a lightning rod for many of those views. As a result, we did pull our advertising on this program.”

Wait a minute, Lowe’s. Exactly what "topic" are you talking about? Are we 7 million American Muslims merely a "topic" to discuss in today’s America? In 2011, do we live in a country in which an entire minority group can be dehumanized as a “topic?”

Plus, it is cowardly for Lowe’s not to  even mention this "topic" (aka Muslims) by name in its public statements.

What if right-wing groups were mobilizing against a television show highlighting the everyday lives of Latinos, African-Americans, Jewish people or gay people? Would Lowe’s have buckled?

Of course not.

What makes this national controversy all the more troubling is that many of the more than 12,000 comments responding to Lowe’s Facebook statement endorse the chain store’s decision, and in jingoistic language that is a lot less oblique than Lowe’s. Here are some of the comments that were showcased by BuzzFeed:

- “Thank you Lowes, for pulling your advertising from “All American Muslims” show (there is no such thing as “All American Muslims”).”

- “[The women on the TLC show] were almost pretty, till they put rags on their heads.”

- “How dare these people come into our country and try to take over and push their religion onto us!”

- “Thank you for pulling your support for American Muslim, now I will come back and shop in your stores.”

I wonder whether these people would ever have the guts to say these same things about other religious and ethnic groups in America today.

Do these people know that the cast members for "All-American Muslim" include a federal agent and a deputy chief of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, both of whom are proud American Muslims?

Do they know that some of America’s foremost heroes and celebrities, from boxer Muhammad Ali to comedian Dave Chappelle, are proud Muslims?

Just as anti-black, anti-Semitic, homophobic or anti-Latino campaigns should have no place in our country, it is important for Americans of all races, religions and ethnicities to stand up against the bigoted campaign against "All-American Muslim."

Otherwise, TLC might as well change the name of its show to "All-American Bigotry."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arsalan Iftikhar.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Opinion • TV

soundoff (2,079 Responses)
  1. Dhulfiqar

    Keep the comments coming. It's a perfect reflection of what America is not.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  2. JDJ

    Lowe's can advertise, or not advertise, how they want. At least on this topic, if not others, Lowe's is trying to stay neutral in the culture wars.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Dhulfiqar

      Their position is not neutral. They buckled under racist and bigoted pressure. If they were neutral they either would not have advertised from the beginning or continued advertising.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Greg s

      Look at Islam in the rest of the world and then talk about racist and bigoted people. There Killing Christians in Egypt and many other parts of the world and you want American Christians to embrace them, Yea Right!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Save Wrigley! The Muslim woman made her convert husband get RID of his 14 year old dog! There is an unholy, unclean cur in that house, but it was not the one who was man's best friend.

      Muslims have to be willing to integrate into modern life, and to grow a heart that can self-reflect, that can incorporate self-improvement and criticism of Islam. You can't live a 7th century code of law in the modern world any more than you can only use 7th century medicine.

      THAT is what protesters abhor about this show, that such cruelties as this and all those committed in the name of Islam are presented or ignored as simply part of a religion which we must all now tolerate. This is not Europe. No one is going to allow such casual cruelty to stand using a bogus claim of religious faith as protection.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  3. Jim J

    Muslims are a virus. They've already succeeded in injecting their primitive sharia law into the UK. The States are next if we don't do something about it.

    December 13, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • TruthKeeper

      They use TAQIYYA and KITMAN to deceive all non-muslims to advance in their agenda, research it , pass the info on.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Greg s


      December 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      the facts speak for themselves about this religion of guilt

      December 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  4. Merrell O'Brian

    As a gay man, let me ask you, isn't it true that in Islamic countries, muslims publically SLAUGHTER or multilate gay men and women because of their relgion? So, you're screaming about bigotry? Let me give you a piece of advice: You look just like a bigot and a hypocrit when you are worse at doing what you accuse others of doing. Just sayin'.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      Facts hard to dispute one actions which speak louder than deceptive words !!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Thank you Merrel. Who is the bigot, Lowes or the Muslim clerics who hang young gay men (they're always young for some reason) from construction cranes or stone or shoot them in the head in soccer fields?

      This is not just a few rogue Muslims, this is the law of the land in many Muslim societies under Islamic law. Tolerance of bigotry is bigotry.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  5. HP

    The way I see it, there's not a whole lot of difference between Evangelical Christians and the Taliban anyway. They both want to force the rest of the world to live under their strict rules and refuse to acknowledge someone else's right to believe in a religion that is different from theirs. And a whole lot of people have been killed in the name of their respective deitys. Religion is a crutch for the weak minded.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Freeman

      Muslims don't kill people in the name of religion?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • HP

      Did you actually read what I wrote or just scan and jump to conclusions?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      It's about attraction not promotion when it comes to ones belief system. if this is attractive to you, then you are the enemy. If this is not attractive to you, and your a muslim, then you need a different belief system, because this one is a failure. You have been decieved by this religion of guilt. http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ GET THE FACTS

      December 13, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • JDJ

      I would say there is much difference. One group was started by a man marrying many wives, one of which was 10 years old or younger, and taking over the surrounding area and forcing people to believe in the new religion or face being slaughtered. The other group was started by a man whose enemies could not find any fault in him and who when dying asked God the Father to forgive them since they did not know what they were really doing. Islam offers bondage and no promise of peace in this life or the life to come. Islam says you cannot know you are in Allah's good graces until you die. Jesus died for all people and stands ready to give them peace now and in the future. There is no doubt that many have perverted the message of Jesus, but those that are true to his teachings cannot be properly compared to the Taliban. I believe that anyone can believe in anything they want since God does not force anyone to follow Him. This is the sad part of life. God allows people to choose another path instead of following Him.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      HP, you can't be serious. Christians are not beheading people for 7th century crimes like sorcery, hanging or stoning gays, making women marry their rapist to get out of prison, supporting female genital mutilation in the name of female purity, and many other deprivations of life and human rights.

      Just this week Al-Shabaab killed a humanitarian worker, probably Christian, a Christian mother was gunned down in Nigeria, Muslims tore down a Sufi shrine in Pakistan and murdered the elderly caretaker, Muslims bombed a bar where people were watching a soccer game in Jos, Nigeria, Afghan Muslims kill three women and a child with a landmine, and Afghan Muslim terrorists kill two innocent bystanders with a bomb on a bike.

      That was JUST THIS WEEK. This IS ISLAM because this is what Muslims are SAYING that their religion IS. Why are we not listening to them?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • HP

      Mike, no where in that incomprehensible gibberish is there even an intelligent, coherent thought. Find your medication dude. JDJ, good post, but I think there are plenty of victims of the Crusades, a bunch of 15th century Spaniards and plenty of present day choir boys that would vehemently disagree with you. I like how you ended by saying that sadly god allows us to pursue our own path. As if in your mind we should all be like you. Therein lies the problem.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  6. TruthKeeper

    I strongly believe all muslim should be take out of our military,...muslims use TAQIYYA as well as KITMAN wich is a tactic to deceive non-muslims,..how on earth can they be sworn in to U.S. military is the question!!!? Please research yourselves and write your U.S. Congressmen to get that in place.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      Start here: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

      December 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  7. rick d785

    More good christians;every time I hear anything form these peole whether it is Tebow,George Bush, or this bunch all I see and feel is pure evil.
    They want hate ?You got it .I hate these MF's

    December 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      Your hatred is misplaced...and BTW these "anti-islamics" are not necessarily christians....really just people who would like to stay alive and have a family in a free country !! http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/ GET THE FACTS

      December 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Who was killed this week by whom? A dozen people died at the hands of Islamic jihadists all over the world, and many of them were Christians. Nigeria, Kenya, Pakistan, and Afghanistan all had Muslim attacks, or attacks committed in the self-proclaimed name of Islam. I did not state these are Muslims attacking for Islam, the ATTACKERS did.

      Christians and dissident Muslims like Sufis and Ahmadis are being slaughtered in the name of an Islam that has nothing to do with the Islam that liberals state they know, or that this show claims it represents.

      I want to see the truth covered. I want to to see an unflinching accounting of the Muslim violence in the world. If we are to believe that this Muslims abhor violence, I want to see them talk about it, confront it, and denounce it.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  8. Abba-Dabba-Du

    This is a non-story CNN, move along. Let the free market determine whether or not this is a good move. They have a right to advertise where they want, and the government certainly has no right to force them to advertise anywhere.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  9. MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

    Get the facts: 'I judged myself by my intentions, while the world judges me by my actions" Discern the truth !!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  10. BWS

    This is a clear case of political correctness rearing it's ugly head again. Did CNN report on Muslim Radicals when the attacks on America occurred on 9/11/01? Did that help to brand Muslims as non American and radicals? Have there been stories on CNN about these attacks being justified as part of Muslim law? I'm pretty sure these people who are speaking out against Muslims have had some of their perception shaped by the unbiased providers of news. The same people who are now having a Muslim (I assume Mr. Iftikhar is Muslim but maybe not) outraged at being lumped in with those radicals who did in fact quote the Koran when justifying the attacks. Guess what it's like a Penn St alum being lumped in with those who knew about Sandusky. It sucks but you need to take it up with the radicals for perpetuating this image, not with those reacting to the stereotype if you expect change.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  11. Confused

    Sad that I fell for this "controversy" and contributed to the clicks associated with this ad-revenue generating site. Thankfully I have ad-block installed so tripe like this that I shouldn't click on doesn't get any revenue from it.

    Wake up people, this is manipulating you to click on this story and post, creating more buzz and more ad views for CNN. Nothing more.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  12. Daknik

    It is amazing in this country how having an opinion that has not been approved through a "political correct" committee labels someone as a bigot.

    When it comes down to it, people in this world commited a horrible act against the United States, but they didn't do it in the name of another country... they did it in the name of a religion. Their attack inspired fear and anger, but the only target that is available for that fear and anger is the religion who's name was used to justify the attack. The people of America know that 99.99999% of the muslims in this country are good and innocent people... but the .00001% that are not good people are purposefully hiding among the innocent. This leaves most people with few options, we cannot act on our anger (I know some do, but they are the minority)... but the fear will remain for all, which is exactly what the people who did this wanted. So please forgive us for being human, but I don't blame Lowes for not wanting to support a show that details how we as Americans are bad people for not accepting every Muslim with open arms when it is a fact that there are a small number of Muslims in this country that actually do wish us harm. Your frustrations are just, but you have a long road ahead that was paved by others acting in the name of your religon.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  13. Tommie

    Love Lowe's. Shame I won't be shopping there anymore. I can't support this.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • PhillyRN

      Why? Don't they have a right to choose what best represents their brand? You do understand that some revolting things were shown on the show, like the Muslim woman making her convert husband get rid of his 14 year old dog. Just dumped it in a shelter, they didn't say. Dogs are considered "unclean" as stated in the Koran. Even dogs that are pets who get vet care and are obviously healthy are supposed to be subjected to a medieval code.

      If this cruelty is supposed to be what we are to tolerate as normal, then no wonder Lowes wanted nothing more to do with it.

      I hope the show addresses what happened to Wrigley, instead of ignoring this in the name of political correctness. If I have to pick tolerating slam or being a decent person to animals like dogs, then I pick the dogs.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  14. jsl123

    Dear Lowes, good for you. I don't understand why people are complaining about your actions. It's your money to do with as you please. I love your stores!
    Dear christian self rightous groups. Mind your own business. You brain was children and advocate ATE towards anyone who doesn't agree with you. Crawl into a hole and be quiet, please....................

    December 13, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • mawmaw88

      GREAT job Lowes!

      December 13, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Greg s

      Read what you wrote then look in the Mirror, It doesnt appear that Christians have a lock on hate.

      December 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  15. WhoHasTheRight

    I 100% agree with this opinion piece. Even if I did not agree, what would give me the right to tell this man who wrote this article otherwise? I am not Muslim and I have not experienced the judgmental stereotypes in a manner I am sure he has more times than he can count. Please don't comment an ignorant paragraph if you have not walked in his shoes. I wish we all could go back to kindergarten and learn the basic rules of life: "No calling names, no kicking or biting, and be nice." Plan and simple.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • BWS

      This is like saying a sports coach is invalid if he's never played at that level. So Vince Lombardi was a quack because he never played in the NFL right?

      December 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • PhillyRN

      Where's Wrigley?

      December 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  16. Abel

    I believe the "topic" Lowes was referring to is religion and not the Muslim minority in America. The fact of the matter is that there are anti everything groups in America and any show that targets a specific controversial topic will get the same amount of response for or against it. I am sure that Lowes is not the first company to pull advertising for this reason. The fact of the matter is that what Lowes did is very American as it has every right and freedom to decide where it chooses to advertise. You can do the same and just choose not to support Lowes as that is your right as an American. While I may be bad for citing a comedian, but Carlos Mencia might have it right when he says that it's just your turn. Every race and religion has been discriminated against at one time or another in this country and it's just the Muslims' turn. You can't expect that religion to be easily accepted so quickly in a country founded by Christians; especially with all the bad press Muslims receive. I say be glad that you actually have a show on TV that gives you a platform and that only one advertiser, not all of them, has dropped out.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  17. Cilla

    What happen to Freedom of Speech? If individuals from any Ethnic background could have opinions to speak out and voice their opinions so do Companies. Bravo to Lowes!!! It's their choice, they did it, it's done! so-Let it go people!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  18. Charles Peart

    The makers of this show knew exactly what they were doing. Their action gives greed a new standard. Your article is just what they wanted and expected. Let’s be controversial and start a fire that will equate to “ratings”. If the media can generate this crap, then Lowes can choose where they want to spend their advertising dollars. By the way I just loved the article yesterday about sharia law and that ladies head. Really makes me want to know more about islam. When Jews and Christians start killing our population and GI’s, I will become more tolerant, not. Kill them all and let God sort them out!

    December 13, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  19. Nellie

    I can't believe some of these comments! Muslim Americans are just as American as anyone else. We are not a country of white Christians! Aren't we called the "melting pot"? We are a melting pot of cultures, religions, and ideas.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • MikeyMikeMichaelandyouknowwhyitsmyname

      Islam is a political movement not a religion. They do not want to "melt into some pot" please educate yourself and join the rest of us in reality. http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

      December 13, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • Nellie

      Hey Mike,
      You're an idiot.

      December 13, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Greg s

      EVERY TERRORIST BOMB THAT GOES OFF HAS A MUSLIM FANATIC JUMPING UP AND DOWN WITH GLEE, They are filled with excitement with the deaths of Americans, These Muslim Americans never come out in public and denounce these acts of murder all they do is make sure we dont blame them for what there brothers do. So Loews decided the 1% of American Muslims they were going to enrage was worth the 30 percent of enraged Christian Americans tehy would appease, its all about the money.
      Just remember when these Muslim Americans get beyond the 6% threshold they will start to demand Shira Law in America, Remember that when your defending them today while there at 1%

      December 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • Greg s

      Islam is both a religion and a form of Law and Govt that will not be and can not be part of this America, They can only sit quiet until they have the number's for change. Then you get to see those Muslims that have been hiding in the basement alll along!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Bring Wrigley the dog home!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • PhillyRN

      Bring Wrigley home!

      December 13, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  20. TruthKeeper

    TAQIYYA is the keyword too look out for Oh and KITMAN ,..research yourselves and pass it on.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:51 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.