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Munira Syeda Headshot

Lowe's and All-American Muslim

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Dear Mr. Niblock,

We have never met.

Yet, you seem to have bought into the idea that I am a threat.

One fringe group screamed "Muslim," and lo and behold, you caved.

And, in turn, you've made the drastic error of pulling your company's spots from essentially an All-American show from an all-American TV network.

Clearly, you do not seem to know much about American Muslims or their contributions to the American fabric, so let me take this opportunity to enlighten you.

I come from a proud immigrant family that moved here 20 years ago from Pakistan. My parents taught my siblings and me to work hard and accomplish our dreams. Today, we are contributing members of our communities, with two of my siblings working as physician's assistants and one as a firefighter. As for me, I turned to writing and advocacy during my days in college and have continued to pursue those causes with fervor.

I also am a new homeowner, pay my taxes, give to charitable causes, look forward to voting in next year's election, and have shopped at Lowe's because of good customer service and because I didn't feel right giving all my business to its competitor, Home Depot.

And ... I'm only one of at least 7 million Muslims who are working hard to achieve not only their American Dream but helping fellow Americans achieve their dreams as well.

Did you happen to watch All-American Muslim at all? Before your decision to pull spots from the TLC show, did your company properly research the bigoted groups that put out a call for an advertiser boycott of the show?

The Florida Family Association falsely claimed the show "riskily hides the Islamic agenda's clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values." Did Lowe's consider asking this group how a show about regular American families (who happen to be Muslim) actually undermines the U.S. Constitution?

Calls for the advertiser boycott also came from Internet hate sites like "Bare Naked Islam," which recently featured a number of threats of violence targeting U.S. and European mosques.

Perhaps the Islamophobic pressure appeared unbearable. After all, the Islamophobia industry has had some $40 million pumped into it in the past decade. A look at your company's facebook page indicates this industry's unfortunate hold on regular Americans (one-third of the 22,000-plus comments posted in response to your company's statement were unfortunately hateful toward Muslims).

Did you actually intend to stand in the company of hate-mongers, Mr. Niblock? If so, then I'm here to remind you that an individual or entity that chooses to stand with the bigots is just as guilty of bigotry.

I hope that by now, you recognize the irresponsibility of your actions. Besides creating a self-inflicted PR nightmare, your actions unleashed precisely the kind of widespread support for our values and for our Muslim neighbors that the Florida Family Association and other hate sites attempted to curtail.

The public witnessed an outcry to your decision from a vast segment of Americans including well-known figures like Russell Simmons, Mia Farrow, Calif. Senator Ted Lieu, U.S. Congressmen Keith Ellison (Minnesota) and John Conyers (Michigan), the Japanese American Citizens League, comedian/actor Aasif Mandvi, and comedian/actor Kal Penn. And, more and more national figures and groups are speaking out against your company's actions with each passing day.

No one disputes the right of hate-mongers to spew their hate, however good Americans have the responsibility to ensure such hate-mongers stay on the fringes of society, where they belong.

It is still not too late to do the right thing, Mr. Niblock. Reverse your decision. Apologize. Reach out to all your consumers.

You'll find Americans, including American Muslims, a forgiving bunch.

Signed,
Munira Syeda
On-the-fence shopper, Lowe's #2783 & #2270