According to The Learning Channel, its coming new “All-American Muslim” program is a “powerful series” taking viewers “inside the rarely seen world of American Muslims.” And it uncovers a “unique community struggling to balance faith and nationality.”
Critics, however, say it is nothing more or less than a video version of jihad.
The program launches on Sunday on the TLC Cable Channel.
The producers went to Dearborn, Mich., the U.S. city that has the highest concentration of Muslims in the United States, and a producer who declined to be named told WND the stories focus on people.
“Ultimately, our shows are about telling the stories of the families featured in them. So, to some extent, the history of American Muslims settling in Dearborn may be touched upon, but ultimately, this is about the families’ stories and what’s going on in their lives today, not the past, per se,” the producer said.
The producer said he believes the program is a glimpse into a lifestyle with which most Americans are unfamiliar.
“Like many of our programs, it offers viewers a glimpse into a world they may not otherwise experience, introducing them to real-life families who are going through everyday experiences that really resonate with our audience–from getting married, to having a baby to rooting for your favorite football team,” the producer said.
“We’re excited about that because we think this group of families really will give our audience a taste of what life is like in Dearborn, Mich., for a variety of American Muslims–some quite traditional, and some not.”
But Islam analyst Pamela Geller says that perspective on the show is also its danger.
“Clearly this program is designed to counter the fictional threat of ‘Islamophobia’ by showing Muslims who aren’t terrorist monsters, but ordinary people living ordinary lives, balancing tradition and modern life, dealing with their families, their jobs, and a host of other issues,” Geller said.
“It is an attempt to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and to bully them into thinking that being concerned about the jihad threat would somehow victimize these nice people in this show. The problem is not people; it’s ideology. The show doesn’t address that,” Geller said.
The producer of the program says that for the most part, program makers purposefully avoided getting too deeply into some of the deeper issues surrounding Islam.
“This show is not about politics. Viewers will gain insight into Islam, definitely, but more from the perspective of cultural traditions, how modern American Muslims in Dearborn live, family matters and so on,” the producer said.
Dearborn often is called “Dearbornistan” by cultural critics because it has the largest concentration of Arab peoples outside of the Middle East.
Dearborn’s population is 30 percent Arab, with most of the people coming from Lebanon. A 2009 Associated Press report says that the large Lebanese population in Dearborn makes the Michigan city, “The heart of Shiism in the United States.”
Dearborn has also grown progressively more compliant with Shariah law. The city recently was the subject of controversy when members of a Christian group wanted to hand out Christian literature at a public park during a Muslim festival and were arrested and charged with creating a public nuisance.
The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center represented the Christians in the case, who eventually were acquitted.