MIAMI — A Miami dentist who was fired over a viral video thatwith information on missing Israeli civilians believed to be kidnapped by Hamas said Thursday that the now infamous clip misrepresents his behavior.
Ahmed Elkoussa said his former employer, CG Smile in Coral Gables, wrongly terminated his employment, and he is now receiving threatening messages for actions he claims were suggested by a police officer.
“It was a viral video that was four seconds,” Elkoussa said. “I was doing something very peacefully for a good cause.”
In the wake of another incident in which a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death in Illinois, Elkoussa wants peace, he said.
He claimed the flyers posted around his neighborhood were contributing to neighborhood tension. So, as twith a friend, Elkoussa asked a police officer what to do.
“I said, ‘You do realize what this is, what the effects of it is?’ and (the officer) agreed,” Elkoussa said. “He said, ‘Yeah, I understand. I know. But you have one of two options. You can take them down or you can post something else.”
Blake Warman recorded what happened next.
“I saw two men tearing down posters,” Warman said. “I recognized one of the men and I just wanted to document it.”
Warman said he posted his video to his Instagram page where it eventually went viral, garnering widespread news media coverage around the globe.
Backlash for Warman followed, with people going after his Miami Beach bakery, only in business for two years, with one-star reviews, Warman said.
He said he too received death threats.
After CG Smile fired Elkoussa, their reviews suffered as well.
Elkoussa’s lawyer said his client might sue the cosmetic dentistry over the dentist’s termination.
“Because of his Lebanese heritage, because he’s Muslim, I believe his employer wrongfully used Islamophobic tropes to add context that simply wasn’t there,” said Hassan Shibley, Elkoussa’s attorney.
Warman refused to judge Elkoussa and said posting the video was never intended to ruin anyone’s career. However, Warman regrets nothing expect reactions hurting his business.
Elkoussa said his getting his job back is less important than his purpose, which is peace.
“I want to be very, very clear,” he said. “My heart does go out to the Jewish and Israeli communities and you know to innocent lives and civilians as well as the Palestinians. The issue here again is it’s something that they’re posting the posters in Brickell in the neighborhood where this is not occurring. I would (remove flyers again) whether it was the Palestinian side or the pro-Israeli side. If I saw a Palestinian I wouldn’t regret taking it down.”