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Members of New Jersey's large Muslim community and some lawmakers are condemning the Lowe's home improvement chain for its decision to pull ads from a reality TV show about American Muslims.
The head of the state's largest mosque says a protest is being planned for Friday at the Lowe's Cos. store in Paterson, home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the U.S.
It's the same store President Barack Obama visited recently on a tour of the city after it suffered flood damage.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., says the company's decision emboldens intolerant Americans and has offended many patriotic Muslims.
Pascrell joined several of his House colleagues in signing a letter from U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress, to Lowe's CEO asking him to stand up against religious intolerance.
"I am disappointed in the Lowe's Companies' short-sighted and impulsive decision," Pascrell said. "They have hurt and offended many patriotic Muslim Americans, and all Americans, in my district and across the country."
Pascrell said Lowe's decision to pull its ads from the TLC show "All-American Muslim" after complaints from an evangelical group was contrary to the company's record of charitable works, especially during the recent flooding that ravaged Paterson, and of creating jobs in economically depressed areas.
New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono also sent a letter Lowe's CEO condemning the company's action and saying New Jersey's tens of thousands of Muslim residents were offended. Buono also called the Florida Family Association, which persuaded Lowe's to pull its ads, a hate group, and questioned Lowe's de-facto endorsement of the group's views.
Mohamed El-Filali, outreach director for the Islamic Center of Passaic County, said organizers were expecting several hundred people from New Jersey and other states to attend a Friday protest at the Paterson Lowe's store.
"It is unfortunate that in the 21st century we still have legitimate organizations like Lowe's involved in bigotry and allowing a regular program portraying Muslim families in their natural light not to be sponsored," El-Filali said.
Mooresville, N.C.-based Lowe's has stood by its decision to pull the ads after complaints from the conservative group. Lowe's executives said Monday the company planned to stick by its decision after the show became a "lightning rod for people to voice complaints from a variety of perspectives -- political, social and otherwise."
"All-American Muslim," which premiered last month, chronicles the lives of five families who live in and near Dearborn, Mich., a Detroit suburb with a large Muslim and Arab-American population.
Follow Samantha Henry at http://www.twitter.com/SamanthaHenry.