TLC cancels controversial reality show about Muslim-Americans
By Niraj Warikoo
Program was scrutinized, attacked by coalition of Jews and Christians
ETROIT (MCT) "All-American Muslim," the reality TV show on TLC based in Dearborn, Mich., that ignited a national controversy, will not be back for a second season, the Detroit Free Press has learned.
TLC officials said the show was canceled because of low ratings, noting that viewership dropped from 1.7 million for its first episode in November to 729,000 in January. But cast members, such as Suehaila Amen, said that 30 other shows on TLC had similar ratings and were not canceled.
The show came under fire from anti-Muslim bloggers who called for a boycott of advertisers on the show. Under pressure, the home improvement store Lowe's pulled ads from "All-American Muslim" after hearing of complaints from conservative Christians and Jews who were upset that that show did not portray Muslim Americans as extremists.
Some conservative Muslims also did not like the show because they thought the characters were not pious enough; one woman on the show wore short skirts and wanted to open a nightclub. Other conservative Muslims complained that all of the characters on the show were Lebanese-American Shiites.
But although some people frowned upon the show, others were thrilled at a series they felt was both entertaining and important. On social media sites, supporters expressed disappointment that the show will not be back for a second season.
The TV series featured the lives of five Dearborn families who are Arab-American Muslims and looked at their everyday activities as they negotiated their religious and American identities.
Praised by national critics and religious leaders, the TV series was the first in the U.S. on Muslim Americans, but drew heat from some conservatives. From football players to police officers, the show gave people a glimpse into the world of the Arab-American Muslim population of Dearborn, the highest concentration in the U.S.
"Having the opportunity to be a part of such a groundbreaking series with TLC has been extraordinary," Amen said. "Our show helped to pave the way for the moderate Muslim voice to be heard in this nation."
Her brother, Bilal Amen, another cast member, said the show "was an important conversation that needs to happen in a country where racist comments are being considered dialogue."
"We are well aware that, at the end of the day, it's a business decision," Amen said.
After Lowe's pulled its ads from the show, some supporters, such as hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, helped launch a nationwide effort to back the show that drew support from a range of religious and civil rights organizations.
They launched a petition drive and held protests asking Lowe's to reinstate its ads, which the chain never did.
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