While TLC's "All-American Muslim" is an open show full of discussion about life in a Muslim community, many of the show's participants and fans expressed concerns over general backlash against Muslims. While most might understand that a show about a Muslim community premiering near the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks might create controversy, the overt backlash from the conservative Florida Family Association (FFA) has caused advertisers like Lowe's to drop advertising in that time slot.
The FFA continues to blast companies such as Campbell's and Hershey's for maintaining their ad spots on "All American Muslim," insisting that the show supports a radical agenda.
Businessperson Russell Simmons purchased ads in that time slot to compensate for the pulled ads.
The first season of "All-American Muslim" ends on Jan. 8 with an episode about how the individuals on their show react to the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11. While it seems like former advertisers are caving into pressure from the FFA, such a poignant episode could produce a strong season finish for the series.
"All-American Muslim" represents different viewpoints in the Muslim community. Over the holidays, I spoke with family and friends about their feelings on the show. One of my friends, a self-proclaimed liberal who enjoys life in California, explained that she first tuned in when Jeff and Shadia McDermott got married early in the season.
Like me, she had a mixed reaction to Jeff's conversion from Catholicism to Islam and felt sympathetic to his mother's initial reaction. My friend and I were both raised here in the Northeast, and I deeply value my Irish American culture.
I convinced my friend to watch additional episodes and to avoid judging the couple (or the show) based on one event in one episode. By the end of the season, Jeff and Shadia learn to compromise over Jeff's dog Wrigley. While the issues stemmed over Shadia's health and her religion's views on keeping dogs in the home, the conflict itself had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with a newly married couple learning to compromise and share a home. I'm glad my friend is giving the show another chance.
Several friends and family members are surprised by the variety of individuals and religious beliefs represented on the show. While all participants share core beliefs of Islam, they express their faith in different ways and interpret the Quran (Muslim holy book) differently.
While I have found myself borderline offended by a few things on the show, I would love the opportunity to befriend most of the cast if I had the chance to meet them-including Shadia, who always manages to further her connection with God by following the truth in her own heart.
While I consider some of the views expressed on the show to be conservative, I find most of them less restrictive than the politicized lenses of the news media and the harmful business and politics in today's society. By opposing this show and pressuring advertisers, the FFA is limiting a legitimate option for peaceful discussion and examination of Muslims in America.
I commend the cast of "All-American Muslim" for their bravery in continuing this project and associated social media presence and promotion despite the harsh response of the FFA.
Unlike the FFA, the individuals on this show as well as the companies purchasing advertising slots understand that the vocal minority in no way represents a religion or nation.