“All-American Muslim” Reality Show and the Lowe’s Controversy

All-American Muslim” is an eight-part reality show on The Learning Channel (TLC) which premiered on November 13, 2011, and ends on January 8th, 2012.  (If you don’t have cable or have missed the airings, the first episode is currently available here on YouTube.)

To say that the show is controversial is an understatement. Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, recently pulled its ads from the show partly in response to Islamophobes like David Caton of the Florida Family Association. The FFA sent emails to all the show’s sponsors threatening to call all “concerned Americans” to boycott their products if they didn’t withdraw their support.

First of all, ads don’t necessarily mean that the companies who are advertising necessarily agree with a show’s premise or content. If that were the case, how did another TLC show, “Sister Wives” (a show about polygamy) get any advertisers? (And why isn’t the FFA protesting that show??)

Second of all, what kind of idiot views a commercial as an endorsement of anything but the product it’s advertising? Let’s be realistic: companies advertise on shows that they think will have a decent viewership. They don’t care why people are watching the shows; they just want the viewers to buy their products. (Remember, this is commercial television that we’re talking about here.)

Lowe’s could have stood its ground and still maintained its objectivity if it had just issued a statement saying that they advertised on the show in the first place in order to reach its audience. They could have said that those who find the show objectionable should write the show’s creators or the networks that present it. In their statement on their Facebook page, they say that they pulled their ads because the show had become a lightning rod for different societal and political views. (Read the statement here.) So? Big deal!

What they didn’t consider is that the controversy may well create a larger audience for “All-American Muslim.” If they were really smart, they’d reconsider their position and start advertising on the show again.

The FFA and other like-minded bigots believe that the show is a “stealth” project to somehow “trick” the American public into thinking that Muslims are not terrorists. Their little brains can’t handle the concept of diversity even within specific groups of people. All they see are stereotypes, as if only Christians (at least the white and conservative ones) safeguard American values. And anyone who knuckles under to their scare tactics is as small-minded as they are.

For more about this controversy, see here and here.


Where Are the Bigots When a Muslim Does Something Good?

When Rima Fakih won the Miss USA pageant last year, the media jumped all over the story. OMG! She’s a Muslim! The Muslim community must be horrified!

Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs delighted in the notion that Fakih’s  “accomplishment” was “an affront to islam” and a “pox on their house.” She practically nominated Fakih for sainthood for embodying “everything sharia and the Islamic world deplore — free women.”

Burn those burkas, baby, and come on in. The water is just fine. I wonder if the ink is dry on the fatwa …

But when the story broke this week about Saheela Ibraheem, the 15-year-old New Jersey girl who was just accepted to 13 universities, including M.I.T. and six of the seven Ivy League schools she applied to, who got a perfect score on the math portion of the SAT (and a 2340 overall score), who plays three sports, an instrument and sings in her school’s choir, among other achievements, not one news outlet mentioned the fact that this exemplary young woman also happens to be a Muslim. (Full disclosure: most of the articles did mention that she is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants.)

Is there something twisted about this, or is it a sign that the world is beginning to look past someone’s religion to the person beneath the hijab?

I think it’s twisted. If you’re going to be quick to point out Muslims who are behaving “badly” (for Muslims), shouldn’t you be just as quick to point out Muslims who are a credit to their religion? I sincerely doubt that Saheela wanted to hide the fact that she’s Muslim because she clearly wears the hijab in all the pictures I’ve seen of her (including when she’s participating in sports). But she doesn’t mention it either, probably because to her it’s no big deal.

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying that one’s religion or race should be mentioned when his or her accomplishments are being touted. What I am saying is, where are the bigots like Pamela Geller when a Muslim does something good? They would have us believe that there is no such thing as a Muslim who is a model citizen. After all, everyone knows that all Muslims are terrorists.  If they acknowledged that someone like Saheela Ibraheem is a Muslim, they would have some explaining to do.

According to Islamophobes, Muslims want to bring down Western civilization and take over the world. Saheela Ibraheem just wants to be a research scientist and study the brain.

See an article and video  about Saheela Ibraheem here.

Video: Conversion Stories

These videos are part of a series called “Choosing Islam” put out by Dubai Media. (You can access it on You Tube by subscribing to Lynnphotos84.) Here, two women discuss their conversion. The videos are in English with Arabic subtitles.



Have Fun with Wordle

Wordle: Muslims Believe

I don’t know if you’ve run across Wordle, but it’s a way of creating word clouds.The more often you use a word, the larger it appears. You can try out different configurations, fonts and color schemes. When you find one you like, you can print it, link to it, and/or publish it to the public gallery. The only thing you can’t do (yet) is search for it once you’ve published it.

I used my post on “Sin and Forgiveness” to make one and the above is what it came up with. Just click on the image to get a better look at it.

This Wordle is based on the Fatiheh.

Wordle: Fatiheh

These would make great posters, note cards, t-shirts or whatever. The image is yours to do what you want with it. However, if you publish it to the gallery, be aware that others are free to use it, too.

If you’re a teacher, here is a site that suggests ways to use Wordle in the classroom.


Humor: “Red State Update” about the Murfreesboro Mosque

Last night I watched a CNN special, “UNWELCOME: The Muslims Next Door” about some folks in Murfreesboro, Tennessee who are against the construction of a mosque there. It didn’t depict Murfreesboro in a very flattering light. Watch this humorous video for an alternative view of what “rednecks” think about Muslims. (Warning: It has some strong language.)

The Laugh in Peace Tour

Noor Islamic Cultural Center of Dublin, Ohio, would like to invite you to a function that will be held at Congregation Terifth Israel on April 10th. It is a new kind of interfaith activity where three comedians representing the three Abrahamic faiths will share with the audience the funny sides of their communities.

Congregation Tifereth Israel’s Spotlight Series presents the Laugh in Peace Tour, starring comedians Rabbi Bob Alper, Azhar Usman and Rev. Susan Sparks, at 7 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at Congregation Tifereth Israel, 1354 E. Broad St.

Sirius/XM satellite radio plays Rabbi Bob Alper‘s comedy bits several times daily. He is an ordained rabbi who served congregations for 14 years and holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Trained as an attorney, Azhar Usman is a Chicago-based Muslim comedian, actor, producer, activist and founder of the popular “Allah Made Me Funny – The Official Muslim Comedy Tour.”

A trial lawyer turned stand-up comedian and Baptist minister, Rev. Susan Sparks is America’s only female comedian with a pulpit. She is the Senior Pastor of the historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City, and the author of “Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor.”

Tickets are $35 for adults and $15 for students. To order tickets, call Shelley at (614) 253-8523, or send a check payable to Congregation Tifereth Israel to: Congregation Tifereth Israel, Attn: Spotlight Tickets, 1354 E. Broad Street, Columbus 43205.

Here is some more information about two of the comics from the AEI Speakers Bureau website:

The New York Times declared that they “had the audience convulsing.” And that’s just what to expect when comedians Azhar Usman, a Muslim, and Rabbi Bob Alper (a Jew, of course) take the stage.

There’s a reason why XM / Sirius satellite radio plays Vermont resident Rabbi Bob Alper‘s comedy bits several times daily, often sandwiched between Bob Newhart and Bill Cosby: Bob’s unique background…he’s an ordained rabbi who served congregations for fourteen years and holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary…prepared him well for a twenty-three year comedy career with wonderfully unique material presented in a way that’s hilarious, sophisticated, and 100% clean.

Azhar Usman is perhaps the world’s most famous American Muslim comedian. He was the subject of an entire episode of ABC’s Nightline, and was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. He hails from Chicago, with roots from the Indian subcontinent, and has performed throughout the US and in numerous foreign countries with the “Allah Made Me Funny” comedy tour.

Together, Bob and Azhar perform at colleges, churches, synagogues, and theaters in a show that The Detroit Free Press calls “one of the most unusual and uplifting cross-cultural experiences you’ll have this year.”

Rabbi Bob Alper also performs with Nazareth, a Palestinian Christian, and Mo Amer, a Muslim born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents, and occasionally he adds a third comedian to the act, Rev. Susan Sparks, minister of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church, NYC, stand-up comic and former lawyer.

If you’re interested in having the Laugh in Peace Tour come to your area, contact the AEI Speakers Bureau at 1-800-44-SPEAK or visit the individual comedians’ websites (see links above).