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Anonymous hacks group in Muslim TV show uproar

Adam Rose / AP

Nawal Aoude, a pediatric respiratory therapist, left, and her husband Nader go for a walk in a scene from the TLC series, "All-American Muslim." The series features five families from Dearborn, Mich., a city near Detroit with one of the highest concentrations of Arab descendants in the country.

By Matt Liebowitz

SecurityNewsDaily

A conservative Florida organization's opposition to the reality show "All-American Muslim" has stirred up a storm of controversy that's got Lowe's, a Muslim rights group, travel website Kayak, actor Kal Penn and the hacktivist group Anonymous all choosing sides.

Tuesday, the Tampa-based Florida Family Association told the St. Petersburg Times that its website was hacked by a member of Anonymous. FFA executive director David Caton said the attack shut down the FFA site, leaving a message saying that the site destroys free speech. (The site is back online.)

"In a country that supposedly embraces free speech, those that oppose our position have no qualms about destroying our free speech," Caton said. "This is the worst I've seen any group respond."

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The online takedown comes after the FFA, citing what it called "All-American Muslim's" anti-American agenda and Islamic "propaganda," persuaded the home-improvement chain Lowe's to pull its ads from the TLC cable channel show.

The backlash from Lowe's compliance with the FFA riled the Council on American-Islamic Relations as well as "Harold and Kumar" star Kal Penn, hip-hop forefather Russell Simmons and California Sen. Ted Liu, who told the Associated Press, "The show is about what it's like to be a Muslim in America, and it touches on the discrimination they sometimes face. And that kind of discrimination is exactly what's happening here at Lowe's."

A Dec. 11 post on the file-hosting site Pastebin credits the hack to Anonymous and AntiSec, an offshoot of the Anonymous and LulzSec hacking groups that targets large organizations and government corruption.

Along with exposing the email and IP addresses of 33 FFA newsletter recipients and donors, the credit card type and card verification numbers of 13 more and the usernames and passwords of three FFA site administrators, the hacker, identified on his Twitter feed only as "ihazCAnNONz," condemned the conservative group for its "hatred, bigotry and fear mongering towards gays, lesbians and most recently Muslim Americans."

"Anonymous will not stand for hate and divisive vitriol to be spread across our country and whenever we can...we will stop it..." the hacker wrote. "FFA you managed to use your power to influence Lowe's to follow you into your racist stupor and they too will answer for that."

The FFA's influence reached beyond Lowe's; the travel website Kayak also decided to stop running ads on "All-American Muslim" when the show returns next month.

In a press release issued Wednesday, Kayak explained its position.

"We decided to advertise on it in the first place because we adamantly support tolerance and diversity," Robert Birge, Kayak's chief marketing officer, wrote, adding, "When we decided to give our money to TLC for this program, we deemed the show a worthy topic."

Birge said that TLC was "not upfront" about the nature of the show. He didn't elaborate, but said part of Kayak's decision was based on the quality of the show, not its message.

"I watched the first two episodes," Birge wrote. "Mostly, I just thought the show sucked."

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