CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid
Christian, Muslim leaders protest in solidarity at Lowe’s in Allen Park
- BY CANDICE WILLIAMS AND TOM GREENWOOD
- THE DETROIT NEWS
Allen Park— Religious leaders, activists, elected officials and citizens expressed their anger at the company’s withdrawal of advertising on a program about Arab-Americans living in nearby Dearborn during an interfaith protest at a Lowe’s store Saturday.
“We are going to come back out here again, form our coalition and we are going to boycott Lowe’s until they make things right,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Walid joined dozens of other protesters this morning at the Lowe’s on Outer Drive in Allen Park. The demonstration challenged “Lowe’s Decision to Cave in to Hate” when it withdrew advertising on the TLC show “All-American Muslim.”
Protesters have claimed that Lowe’s pulled its ads after it received complaints from the Florida Family Association, which they characterize as a “small right wing fringe group” upset over the portrayal of American Muslims as “ordinary folks just like you and me.”
Dozens of demonstrators, both Christians and Muslims, called carried signs that read “Boycott Bigotry” and “Lowes Remember All-American Muslims Shop Too.” Some held American flags.
“The majority of American society does not hate Muslims,” Walid said to the crowd. “They need to know us better. That’s what ‘All-American Muslim’ is all about. If we as American Muslims are seen by the broader American public, they’re going to love us because we embody all of what America loves. We’re for family values. We’re for public safety. We’re for economic dignity. We’re for the rights of all people.”
Rev. Edie Worthy of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church said she came to support the demonstration to send a message to Lowe’s.
“We’re hoping that this boycott picks up and that it does affect Lowe’s business and let them know this is America,” she said. “Everyone has a right to live and be free.”
Not all the demonstrators were angered at Lowe’s. About a dozen or so people came in support of the store.
Pat Jackson of Clarkston said that the protesters are overreacting at Lowe’s decision. She held a sign that read “I support Freedom to advertise or not” on one side and “A Christian who loves Lowe’s” on the other.
“First of all I was disturbed that Lowe’s was being targeted for making an advertising decision,” she said. “They’ve made it an emotional issue. We don’t have to jump on every decision that is made that there’s underlying bigotry.”
After the story drew national media attention, Lowe’s stated that it was standing by its decision after the show became “a lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives…political, social and otherwise.”
Mazyn Barash of Farmington Hills said he sees nothing wrong with the show.
“It’s entertainment that also has some education in it,” he said. “It lets people know more about people who are Muslim.”
Lowe’s, which is based in Mooresville, N.C., and has annual sales of about $5 billion, has apologized but did not say earlier this week it would reinstate its ads.
Among those that participated in Saturday’s demonstration were members of the African American Ministers Leadership Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Highland Park NAACP, People for the American Way Foundation and State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who represents the residents of southwest Detroit.
“In ‘All-American Muslim,’ TLC follows families who have varying practices when it comes to their faith,” the basic cable network says. “The series is a perfect fit for TLC because like many of our programs, it offers viewers a glimpse into a world they may not otherwise experience, introducing them to real-life families who deal with everyday challenges.”
Lowe’s isn’t the only advertiser to pull support. An executive from the travel site Kayak.com apologized Wednesday for the company’s decision to stop advertising with “All-American Muslim” when it returns in January claiming that TLC wasn’t upfront about the program’s nature and that “the show sucked.”