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TV show dispute becomes 'matter of American freedoms'

Nawal and Nader Aoude, some of the stars of the new Muslim television show

A Florida organization’s campaign to publicize its criticism of a new television program on The Learning Channel that critics say sanitizes Islam – and one company’s decision to take its advertising dollars elsewhere – has escalated to the point the argument now is about fundamental freedoms for Americans.

That’s according to Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs, who told WND the arguments over “All-America Muslim,” the Florida Family Association and the home improvement store Lowe’s, now is “a matter of standing up for the freedom of Americans.”

“Apparently, now the Islamic supremacists in the U.S. are so emboldened that they don’t hesitate to force U.S. companies to advertise where they don’t wish to, and to mount thuggish attacks against freedom fighters. This must not stand,” she said.

Get your autographed copy of Pamela Geller’s “Stop the Islamization of America” directly from WND.

“The fact is that the show specifically situates itself as a response to ‘Islamophobia’ – this was clear from the opening moments of the first show. But it is severely misleading, because it doesn’t deal with the kind of Muslims who would ever have caused anyone any concern in the first place. And I have been saying that since the show premiered,” she said.

The latest developments in the argument are that the Florida Family Association, which campaigns for consumers to contact advertisers and ask them to stop supporting shows it views as questionable, confirmed hackers attacked its website.

A statement at the home page location now reads, “Terrorist hackers have taken hostile action against the Florida Family Association website because we published a news report that ‘The Learning Channel’s’ new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Shariah law. The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

The FFA continued, “This hostile attempt to destroy our web site demonstrates the very reason why we took the position on this program in the first place. These anarchists’ mission is to silence anyone who disagrees with them thus forcing an unchallenged position on the people at large.”

The organization statement agreed with Geller, and officials said, “Every American’s First Amendment Rights are in jeopardy when barbarians like these are allowed to violate federal law with acts of cyber piracy. Don’t expect federal authorities, especially the FBI, to do anything about this though because the policies of the current administration favor the political posture of these cyber terrorists.”

There were online claims that attributed the vandalism to supporters of Islam.

At the same time, according to the Denver Post, a state senator in California, Ted Lieu, was threatening to call for a boycott of Lowe’s. And U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota defended the Muslim community to which he belongs, accusing Lowe’s of upholding the beliefs “of a fringe hate group.”

Lowe’s decision was to stop advertising on TLC’s “All-American Muslim” after FFA publicized its financial stake and asked consumers to contact the company.

The FFA said the show was nothing more than “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

The show is about five Dearborn, Mich., families who are Muslim and are portrayed as living the same lifestyle as other Americans.

But Jerry Newcombe, Truth in Action Ministries’ senior producer and analyst, says the major problem with the program is that it’s not going to show the reality of “pure Islam.”

“It’s a free country. Muslims are free to practice their religion here (thanks to Christianity, ultimately). What is sad, though, is that the truth about the goals of radical Islam are hidden from many Americans through programs like the one on TLC. Islam wants to take over the world. If they have to use force, they’ll do that. But otherwise, they’ll do it by what Robert Spencer calls ‘stealth jihad,'” Newcombe said.

A line from one of the first two episodes illustrates what both Geller and Newcombe are describing, when one of Muslim women says in a panel discussion, “We live our lives just like anyone else.”

That perception is one of the reasons why Jihad Watch publisher and Executive Director Robert Spencer shares the concerns expressed by Geller and Newcombe.

Spencer says the program is attempting to produce a neutral view of Islam.

“The show apparently is trying to show that Muslims go to clubs, like to have fun, etc. But this doesn’t really establish anything,” Spencer said.

“The problem people have with Islam is its teachings of violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers. The problem is not with every Muslim person. It is with the supremacist ideology and the fervent believers in those noxious doctrines of warfare and subjugation,” he said.

Lowe’s later apologized for having “managed to make some people very unhappy,” but added, “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.”

Although accused of being “un-American” and having “naked religious bigotry,” Lowe’s explained, “We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”

WND reported earlier that the Florida organization said a number of companies had stopped advertising on the program.

The organization said that among the companies that initially supported the program, but later did not have any advertising aired, were Airborne Vitamin, Amway, Diamond Foods, Dyson Vacuum, Estee Lauder, HTC Phones, Home Depot, McDonald’s, Petsmart, Pfizer, Sears, Sonic, T-Mobil and Wal-Mart.

“The Learning Channel’s new show ‘All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Shariah law,” the organization’s original evaluation of the show said. “The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.”

The association cited a “troubling scene” in which a Muslim police officer stated, “I really am American. No ifs, ands or buts about it.”

“This scene would appear to be damage control for the Dearborn [Mich.] police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former Muslims for peacefully preaching Christianity,” the association report said.

“Dearborn police falsely arrested Nabeel Qureshi and Paul Rezkalla in 2010 and Sudanese Christian Pastor George Saieg in 2009 for preaching Christianity at the annual Arab International Festival,” the report said.

The association’s suggested message from consumers to sponsors said the show is trying to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and Shariah, which is Islamic religious law.

The report said Dearborn, the site of the biggest mosque in North America, is one of the most densely populated Muslim communities in the United States. In recent years, it has gained national attention for taking a pro-Muslim stance and for the arrest and intimidation of Christian evangelists for engaging in protected speech activity, the report said.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm, has handled several legal disputes over the arrests of those individuals.

“But Americans aren’t suspicious of Muslims who are trying to get married, open clubs, and play football. Americans are suspicious of Muslims who are trying to blow up American buildings, subvert American freedoms, and assert the primacy of Islamic law over American law,” the report said.

The program launched earlier this month on the TLC Cable Channel.

A producer who declined to be named told WND the stories focus on people.

“Ultimately, our shows are about telling the stories of the families featured in them. So, to some extent, the history of American Muslims settling in Dearborn may be touched upon, but ultimately, this is about the families’ stories and what’s going on in their lives today, not the past, per se,” the producer said.