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VIDEO: Community Protests Lowe's Anti-Muslim Ad Pull

Protesters say move is threat against Americans of all faiths.

Abdul Sheikh's Gaithersburg rental business typically spends $20,000 to $25,000 at Lowe’s each year.

Now he said he'll take that money elsewhere.

The company has pulled advertising from a national reality show about Muslim-American families based on pressure from a group that says it fails to "accurately portray Muslims as terrorists."

"I guess they have the right to spend money the way they want, but the way they did this wasn’t right," Sheikh said. "That's the crux of the issue."

Sheikh was one of about 60 protesters spread across two of the five entrances to the Kentland Lowe's around 2 p.m. Sunday. With silver whistles and rainbow-colored kazoos, they waved signs at drivers and pedestrians on their way into the company's only Montgomery County location, chanting, "One, two, three, four, how Lowe can you go?"

Former Maryland Del. Saqib Ali, one of the protest’s leaders, is one of several organizers united through the National Lowe's Boycott Network, a grassroots campaign to pull advertising from the TLC series "All-American Muslim," which follows five Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Mich. Lowe's was pressured into the decision by the group Florida Family Association.

Members of the network are encouraging a nationwide boycott of Lowe's, and organized protests this weekend in several other locations across the country, including San Diego, Calif; Allen Park, Mich.; Brooklyn, N.Y. and Alexandria, Va. By Sunday afternoon, nearly 40,700 people had signed a national petition against the decision.

More than 100 people were expected to join Ali at the roundabout at Kentland Boulevard and Market Street over the course of the afternoon, including, Del. Kumar Barve, Maryland's House Majority Leader; Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett; Gaithersburg City Councilman Michael Sesma; and former Maryland Del. Robin Ficker.

"We are now becoming a country where a virulent minority of people have decided it's okay to hate people with different religious views and I think that's unacceptable," Barve said. "I don't know which is worse: the honest, naked religious hatred of the Florida Family Council or the moral cowardice of Lowe's."

Last week, the North Carolina-based company apologized on Facebook "to anyone offended by our advertising business decision or posts on this page," but stopped short of apologizing for the decision itself.

Barve, who is Hindu, said the situation happened the way it did only because "this is about Muslims."

"If this were about any other religion it would not have come up the way that it did," Barve said. "Nobody would lean on a major corporation to my knowledge to withdraw its advertising. This is all about hatred of Muslims."

But residents of all religions turned out to show their support Sunday, saying the decision threatened religious freedom for Americans of all faiths. North Potomac resident Rick Popowitz, who is Jewish, said it wasn't too long ago that 6 million Jews were "killed by bigots."

"[Lowe's] reacted to a group that says you have to accurately portray Muslims as terrorists. I think that's absolutely flawed. There are Muslims who are terrorists, but there are Muslims who have children who are soccer players, Muslims who are Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts. This is fundamentally ridiculous," he said.

Leggett, who held a sign that said "a Lowe's down dirty shame," said the country was founded on religious tolerance and he was "shocked Lowe's would respond in such a manner."

"I wanted to be here to say at least here in this community, in this county, we are for inclusion and diversity and the actions of Lowe's should not be accepted," Leggett said. "What are the boundaries for this kind of action? … It affects all of us — Muslims today are Hindus or Christians tomorrow."

Some of the protesters, including one Gaithersburg man who brought his two daughters to the gathering, used the afternoon as an opportunity to teach his children about diversity and respect.

"I want to teach my kids that we shouldn't hate people for their religion or what they believe," he said. Next to him, his 4-year-old daughter waved a sign she drew in markers with her sister. It said, "Respect."

While some drivers and pedestrians who passed the protest seemed indifferent to the signs and shouts — including a man in a tan SUV who rolled down his window to yell "Shop at Lowe's all day, baby" — others honked in support.

Jessica Liu, a Rockville resident, spent several minutes talking to a woman who stopped her car at the edge of the roundabout to take a flyer. The woman was "quite shocked" Lowe's decided to pull money based on pressure from the other side, said Liu, who became a Muslim six years ago.

"We're normal like everyone else," Liu said.

Ali, Barve and Leggett hope for an apology from the store. Popowitz hopes the chain will take it one step further, pouring money into inter-faith groups and education.

"When you look at it on a fundamental basis, you have to look out for each other. I forget which philosopher who said that if someone doesn't come and speak up for me  … then they will take the Jews, then they will take the gypsies, then they will take the homosexuals and when they come for me who will be there to speak for me? And the answer is no one. And so we have to stop this," he said.

"Obviously, the people on the corporate board within Lowe's only understand numbers, so I’m not going to shop there, period," Barve added. "I'm hoping they will realize that the vast majority of Americans are not bigots and hopefully we'll stop shopping there and they'll change their decision, they'll apologize to the good American-Muslims … and admit they made a catastrophic mistake."

Saqib Ali December 20, 2011 at 05:00 AM
Good News! New Jersey's largest newspaper, the Star Ledger has called for a Boycott of Lowe's: http://blog.nj.com/njv_editorial_page/2011/12/boycott_lowes_over_stores_anti.html This editorial is proof-positive that the efforts of many people around the country to Protest and Boycott Lowe's decision and to draw attention to it are working. Our protest alone outside the Kentland's Lowe's didn't cause it. However, many people around the country protesting in unison, with their allies from all walks of life are being noticed and it most certainly is making a big difference!
Jeff Hawkins December 20, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Lowes is awsome!
Piotr Gajewski December 20, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Saqib Ali: "American Muslims weren't even involved in 9/11 in any way" A slight correction: several innocent American Muslims died in the terrorist attack. For some examples see: http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/article_904be155-e2ed-5b49-9762-d7112574c4cb.html
hmj December 20, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Ali ---- give us a break. This entire nonsense about being a victim of the wacky show is crazy. Muslins are now going to lecture other people about being bigots? You need to focus on the bigots within your own religion.
Theresa Defino December 20, 2011 at 04:52 PM
This decision is terrible and I won't shop there until it is reversed.
Jeff Hawkins December 20, 2011 at 06:07 PM
Theresa: The decision is there's I believe, it's their advertising money. Regardless of how any of us feel about their decision...........it is in fact "their decision".......just as it is "your" decision "not" to shop their. It's a free country and they can run their company as they see fit (as long as it's legal). I'm not sure it would be a good thing to "force" Lowes to back-up, which at this point it would be nothing but a "force" issue. If they lose customers.....so be it........they probably will gain what they lost in the long run anyway!
Theresa Defino December 20, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I never said they didn't have the right to make the decision but that does not make it a correct one. I also wouldn't refer to them as "awesome," as you did, so I was hoping you would reflect on what you meant by that.
Jeff Hawkins December 20, 2011 at 06:43 PM
Never said..... you said....... they didn't have the right. I did say, the decision is theirs regardless how any of us feel and we can ALL shop accordingly. Lowes is much better than Home Depot in my opinion, better products, better help, treats their employees pretty good (from what I hear) etc., personally I would not stop shopping their because of a pulled TV ad, but again.........it's a free country. I like a company that "rocks the boat" a little and in that respect...........they are awesome! Maybe I'll just have to take up the slack ???
RVN6768 December 20, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Very compassionate
RVN6768 December 21, 2011 at 12:03 AM
Lowes has the right to advertise where ever it wants to; if you don't like it, don't go there.
Galen Muhammad December 21, 2011 at 07:04 PM
Stop Islamaphobia - Defend the Muslim American community! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=131597016941927&set=a.106182906150005.6824.100002748889853&type=1
Galen Muhammad December 22, 2011 at 03:09 AM
Jerry: I'll address your question: The answer is NO. That was NOT the designation of this show -- to answer already-answered questions about a vast majority of Muslim Americans opposing the 9/11 attacks! This show is a reality TV show. Do all reality TV shows address questions that people may have for the general population that those who are televised represent? OF COURSE NOT!! So, why would a sane person expect this show to address and .... what....apologize for something that they were not responsible nor supported? If your questions ARE answered, do you have the authority to have Lowe's not only apologize for supporting and giving credence to bigotry, but make restitution with and establish a public outreach program with the Muslim community and others of good conscience who are also ill-affected by their bad decision? If not, why should we spin our wheel addressing your question if that isn't the goal here?
Galen Muhammad December 22, 2011 at 03:20 AM
Jeff Hawkins: In America, you are free to support bigotry, as an individual. However, when corporations blatantly support bigotry as Lowe's is doing in this instance (something you FAIL to mention intentionally omit), there should be and are repercussions. It has not affected you, DIRECTLY, so it's all good to you. But if and when it does, you'd expect others to empathize with you. You consider Lowe's caving into ONE bigot and giving bigotry a platform as "rocking the boat"? More like sinking the boat, to be more accurate! Be happy being selfish. Btw, please look at the differences between "their/they're/there". They are 3 different words. And twice, you misspelled the word awful!!
Saqib Ali December 22, 2011 at 03:26 AM
Next protest scheduled outside Lowe's in Gaithersburg on Monday January 2nd: http://on.fb.me/ummC7g This will be part of a nationally coordinated day of public demonstrations outside Lowe's stores nationwide.
Jeff Hawkins December 22, 2011 at 01:19 PM
Mr. Muhammad: The bigotry aspect is your OPINION and nothing more. If you feel your religion has been slighted, then look in the mirror and ask why? I would venture to say that there are many examples as to why. As a business decision, Lowes has every right to pull their advertisement. Every business has that right. If you don't like it, move on and get another backer to replace them. I'm quite sure Lowe's will somehow survive this little squabble and frankly from what I hear........they will thrive. Az fer mi speellin miztakes......I apallergise! Your last sentence: "And twice, you misspelled the word awful!!" See any grammar mistakes?
Theresa Defino December 22, 2011 at 01:38 PM
Jeff, I am really disappointed in you. Hopefully you'll see the errors in your thinking.
Jeff Hawkins December 22, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Theresa, I'm sorry that I disappointed you. Obviously we can't all think alike, it would make for terribly boring world don't you think? I honestly believe that a business can pull their advertisement as they see fit, for whatever reason. Then that business must either benefit or fail based on those same business decisions. If a business is "forced" to advertise on a show that they don't really want to advertise on, what good is that? If people are offended by Lowe's decision, then so be it, shop elsewhere. At the same time though there will be a segment that will now shop at Lowe's because of this. How was my spellin' ? :)
karl December 27, 2011 at 04:22 AM
Lowe's stumbled into a tough spot. They had a choice to piss of Christians or Muslims
Galen Muhammad December 27, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Timothy: Remember: Lowe's wasn't throwing monies into the coffers of Muslims. They advertised to enhance THEIR OWN bottom line. You're suggesting that Muslims should have thanked them for their efforts to enhance their bottom line? I'm not following you on the trend....
Galen Muhammad December 27, 2011 at 03:54 PM
No, Jeff.... There were/are no spelling mistakes in that sentence that I stated. "Misspelled" is correctly spelled. But YOU thought it was a typo..., didn't you? LOL And Thereasa Defino: I highly doubt that Jeff will see the errors in his thinking as he's seeing errors that don't exist and creating his own actual errors. But we appreciate your support in the fight against bigotry!
Saqib Ali December 27, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Karl, that's far from the truth. Yes, American Muslims were upset by Lowe's behavior. However so were many other people including Christian groups and Jewish groups. Here you can see that the National Council of Churches issued a statement criticizing Lowe's: http://www.ncccusa.org/news/111215lowes.html. The NCC is perhaps the most influential, mainstream Christian organization in America. The (Jewish) Anti-Defamation League also criticized Lowe's. The Florida Family Association (whom Lowe's bent over backward to appease) is hardly representative of most Christians. It's closer to the "Westbro Baptist Church" than a real, respectable organization.
Jeff Hawkins December 27, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Mr. Muhammed, Your last sentence: "And twice, you misspelled the word awful!!" See any grammar mistakes? "No, Jeff.... There were/are no spelling mistakes in that sentence that I stated. "Misspelled" is correctly spelled. But YOU thought it was a typo..., didn't you?" Mr. Muhammed, Didn't say anything about "spelling"! Still don't see it do you? LOL! Perhaps a lesson in reading comp. would help? LOL.....
Tom Barnes December 28, 2011 at 02:44 AM
Wow. I love all these 'christians' (small 'c' of course) who talk about the demise of western culture and Christianity and pretend to morally superior to others. Look at all those quotes in the Bible about wolves in sheep's clothing. How ferocious you howling is under your bleating, you fakes. That's right - F-A-K-E-S. How dare you use MY God to satisfy your hatred and your bigotry. The road to hell will be paved with many of your self-righteous souls. And you wonder why people are turning away from 'the church'???? Take a good hard look at yourselves and your comments. You are an utter embarrassment to ALL of Christiandom. How conveniently you forget about the dark side of Christianity to begin with. TAKE THE LOG OUT OF YOUR OWN EYE.
Pete Nice December 28, 2011 at 05:05 AM
I am not sure why you gentlemen are taking the time to educate clearly uneducated bigots. Clearly they have no understanding of world history and American history. I am taking two minutes of my time to advise you to not waste yours. Blog posts cannot take the place of higher education and free thought.
Jeff Hawkins December 28, 2011 at 02:52 PM
WOW, not sure anybody even mentioned anything that you are squawking about. "The demise of western culture?" LOL
Jeff Hawkins December 28, 2011 at 02:53 PM
Did you mention "free thought"?
Galen Muhammad February 13, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Brandi: If you're referring to the so-called Christians who disrupted the Arab-American Festival in Dearborn, maybe you should try on the shoes of the sponsors of said festival, let alone walk a mile in them. The festival was not promoted or sponsored to have radicals (from any faith) shouting down festival attendees, disrespecting the religious beliefs of many of them as well. If they wanted to host such an event, why didn't they organize one? Maybe, they'd even consider presenting FACTS instead of the slander they were shouting and had on their signs. Maybe they'll organize a debate where they can actually learn something about Islam, instead of taking the word of paid Islamaphobe who are (literally) paid to lie against Islam.
Galen Muhammad February 13, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Rob: Great! You're exercising your freedom of choice. I will do likewise (i.e. NOT supporting Lowe's supporting and validating bigotry). Are you also suggesting that TLC documents radicals Christian terrorists along with the non-radical Christians so that they show all of "Christian culture in the western world", as you phrased it? You DO want the "real face of Christianity" to be portrayed, RIGHT??
Galen Muhammad February 13, 2013 at 02:33 PM
Jerry: Since this is "after-the-fact", I'm sure you learned (if you even bothered to tune-in) that the Muslims on All-American Muslim were as ill-affected by the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 like all other Americans. What? Were you expecting them to feel different simply because they don't practice the same religion as you? Recall the title of the show: "All-AMERICAN Muslims" (ALL CAPS, mine....for emphasis of their....our nationality/citizenship). Since you mentioned "Jews and Israel" in the same sentence, did you know that there are intelligent, free-thinking, independent Jews in the USA that OPPOSE the illegal occupation of Palestine? Are you questioning them on that stance of theirs?
Galen Muhammad February 13, 2013 at 02:45 PM
Pete Nice: I engage ONLY because I know that others are reading....though the bigot may not be reading .....or thinking, for that matter. I try not to counter each and every nonsensical attempt at making a point with a counter-point. That gives us a platform to counter misinformation (i.e. lies & exaggerations) with the truth. Prayerfully people become more and more informed about Islam every day and more and more people recognize that the paid Islamaphobes have been lying to them all along. But I do thank you for your concern.

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