- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Home improvement chain Lowe's plans to stick by its decision to yank its ads from a reality TV show about American Muslims amid growing debate over the move.

California Sen. Ted Lieu said Sunday that he is considering calling for a boycott of Lowe's Cos., sparking criticism of the chain from both inside and outside of the Muslim community.

On social media web site Twitter, actor Kal Penn began directing people to a petition on signon.org in support of the TLC cable network show, “All-American Muslim.” By Monday afternoon, there were about 9,200 signatures.

U.S. Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, who is Muslim, released a statement Monday condemning Lowe's for choosing “to uphold the beliefs of a fringe hate group and not the creed of the First Amendment.”


And Democratic state Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Detroit, the first Muslim elected to the Michigan Legislature, voiced her concern in a letter to Lowe's CEO Robert Niblock.

“I told them I was extremely disappointed that you give credibility to these hate groups,” Tlaib said. “People of Muslim faith are being attacked. It’s disappointing, disheartening.”

Lowe's, based in Mooresville, N.C., said it stands by its statement on Sunday that it pulled the ads after the show became a “lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives _ political, social and otherwise.”

“All-American Muslim,” which premiered last month, chronicles the lives of five families who live in and near Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population. It airs Sundays on TLC and ends its first season Jan. 8.

TLC spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said the show has garnered a little over a million viewers per week.

“We stand behind the show `All-American Muslim,’” she said. “We’re happy the show has strong advertising support.”

Lowe's stopped its commercials after a conservative group known as the Florida Family Association emailed companies to ask them to do so. The group said the program is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

Florida Family Association, based in Tampa, Fla., said that more than 60 companies that it emailed, from Amazon to McDonalds, pulled their ads. So far, Lowe's is the only major company to confirm that it pulled ads from the show.

Amazon, McDonald’s and other advertisers did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Atlanta-based Home Depot, which was cited by Florida Family Association as a company that stopped advertising, said Monday that it never intended to run any ads during the show. But spokesman Stephen Holmes said one commercial ran “inadvertently and without our knowledge.”

The controversy highlights the fine line companies walk when they select shows to advertise on.

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