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ISNA President & Shoulder-to-Shoulder Respond to Boycotts of “All American Muslim” in Washington Post

11 January 2012 General No Comment Email This Post Email This Post

ISNA President & Shoulder-to-Shoulder Respond to Boycotts of “All American Muslim” in Washington Post

(Dec 20, 2011) ISNA convened the interfaith coalition, Shoulder-to-Shoulder, once again to respond to the controversy surrounding the corporate pull-out of advertising during TLC’s reality series “All-American Muslim.”

SEE: Lowe’s Pulls Ads From “All American Muslim;” Americans Across U.S. Stand Against the Bigotry

On behalf of the 26 member campaign, ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid joined fellow Shoulder-to-Shoulder leaders Rev. Michael Kinnamon and Rabbi Marc Schneier, in anop-ed article published today in the Washington Post.

While some people have tried to divide the American community in the controversy surrounding the show, “All American Muslim,” Shoulder-to-Shoulder once again stands firm to unite us and protect freedom of religion in America.

You can read the full Washington Post op-ed below or view it on the Washington Post website. 

Muslims are more ‘All-American’ than corporate cowards
Washington Post
Dec 20, 2011

Ingrid Mattson, the immediate past president of the Islamic Society of North America, summed up the challenge we Americans face in light of the controversy surrounding sponsorship of TLC’s new reality TV series, “All-American Muslim.”
“Freedom of religion is a hallmark of this country,” she said. “It is time to decide whether or not we are going to live up to our values.”

“All-American Muslim” highlights five American Muslim families experiencing life in ways that we as Americans hold dear: starting a family, serving in law enforcement, and coaching high school football. At the same time, they are shown practicing diverse expressions of their Islamic faith.

As religious leaders, we are committed to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with American Muslims — and with any religious community — when their ability to practice their religion or to express themselves publicly without fear of reprisal is compromised.

Public displays of religious diversity in America are a cause for celebration, not for controversy, because they testify to the strength of religious liberty in the United States.

Withdrawing advertising support from “All-American Muslim” under pressure from an organization that espouses anti-Muslim bias is far from neutral. Such demands send a chilling message to American Muslims that both their religious and nonreligious practices are un-American and should be shielded from public view.
The success of these demands — Lowe’s home improvement stores pulled their ads from the series — has revealed again the outsized power of a relatively small group whose fear-based messages are amplified in the media and, at times, by lawmakers.

We stand by the principle that to attack any religion in the United States is to do violence to the religious freedom of all Americans. Efforts like those against “All-American Muslim” perpetuate the serious anti-Muslim discrimination that has grown in recent years; our religious communities cannot sit by idly while American Muslims’ freedoms are compromised.

We challenge those invested in this controversy in any outlet — politically, online, in media, or in business — to stop espousing an exclusionary narrative while painting it normative or expressive of American values. We challenge you never to pull your support from any religious community in the face of discriminatory ideologies.

Our challenge to companies that have withdrawn their advertising from the show is simple and clear: publicly apologize, and reinstate your advertising.

As national faith leaders, we bear a sacred responsibility to honor America’s varied faith traditions, and to promote a culture of mutual respect and the assurance of religious freedom for all. Our society will be strengthened by confronting this challenge to the continued inclusion of American Muslims in the United States. We celebrate the valuable contributions they have made to our society through their service, family, worship and vocation.

(The Rev. Michael Kinnamon is general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Rabbi Marc Schneier is founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding; Imam Mohamed Magid is president of the Islamic Society of North America.)

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