(Reuters) – U.S. home improvement chain Lowe’s defended on Monday its decision to pull advertising from reality show “All-American Muslim” amid charges the company had given in to bigotry.
“All-American Muslim,” which airs on The Learning Channel and ends its first season January 8, follows several Muslim families in and around the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, which is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States and its largest mosque.
It has been accused by one Florida group to be propaganda. But the decision by Lowe’s sparked an outcry by defenders of the show.
North Carolina-based Lowe’s employed its Facebook page to defend itself and called “All-American Muslim,” a “lighting rod” for “strong political and societal views.”
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Lowe’s spokeswoman Karen Cobb said the company was one of “dozens” of companies to pull their advertising since late last month. Names of other companies were not immediately available.
Laurie Goldberg, a TLC spokeswoman, declined to say how many companies have pulled their advertising from the show, which attracts about a million viewers per week.
“We stand behind the show All American Muslim and we’re happy the show has strong advertising support,” Goldberg said.
Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons announced on Monday in a series of messages on Twitter defending the embattled reality T.V. show that he had bought up the remaining ad spots.
“Just purchased remaining spots for #allamericanmuslim for next week,” Simmons said. “The show is now sold out! keep your money @lowes and we will keep ours.”
A spokeswoman for Simmons said he had purchased two 30-second ads, but said Simmons had not decided what the content of those ads would be.
The Florida Family Association, a little-known group that has campaigned against the show, has branded “All-American Muslim” “propaganda” that is “clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.”
But U.S. Representative Keith Ellison, who is Muslim, said in a statement that Lowe’s had “chosen to uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group” and given in to intolerance.
“Corporate America needs to take a stand against these anti-Muslim fringe groups and stand up for what is right because this is what it means to be an American,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Mark Egan and Dhanya Skariachan; editing by Philip Barbara)