MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida dentist who lost his job after a video surfaced online, showing him tearing down flyers about kidnapped Israelis, said the four-second clip was taken “out of context,” but his former employer disagrees.
Speaking at a news conference held late Thursday afternoon, Dr. Ahmed Elkoussa said he believed the flyers were disturbing the peace.
But the cellphone video, which spread rapidly after it was posted on social media, changed his life.
“My video of four seconds got taken way out of context,” he said.
The clip shows Elkoussa and another man taking down and flyer after flyer in Miami’s Brickell section. The flyers depicted Israeli women and children who are being held captive by Hamas in the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attack in Israel.
“In this neighborhood, it’s causing tension,” said Elkoussa.
The tension followed him to his job at CG Smile, a dental clinic in Coral Gables, where he was fired.
Elkoussa was spotted at a pro-Palestine rally in Miami last Friday.
The dentist has also been seen on clips posted on CG Smiles’ Instagram page.
The clinic confirmed Elkoussa is no longer employed there. Its owner, Juan Carlos Izquierdo, spoke with 7News on Thursday.
“We take the stance with Israel, and we will always support that,” said Izquierdo.
A social media post from CG Smile on Wednesday reads, “We are very said to see this situation upon waking up. Our office, CG Smile, is not in favor of any of the actions taken by Dr. Elkoussa. We do not support terrorist groups, actions or supporters. He has been removed from our staff, all of our social media pages and groups.”
“Our stance is pretty clear: CG Smile is never going to support anything or anyone that is related to any action that will go against our beliefs,” said Izquierdo.
But Elkoussa said this isn’t about being pro-Israel or pro-Palestine.
Regarding his participation in Friday’s rally, he said, “I was walking my dog. I actually noticed the rally. I didn’t hold any Palestinian flag. I didn’t hold anything that would cause any hate towards anybody.”
Elkoussa said tearing down the missing persons posters was about promoting peace.
“It’s to promote peace, it’s to deescalate the situation that we’re going through and make sure that our communities are safe,” he said.
In statement issued earlier on Thursday, Elkoussa’s attorney, Hassan Shibly, claims his client’s actions were prompted by the horrific stabbing death of a 6-year-old Muslim boy in the Chicago area.
Police said the child’s landlord committed the crime, and it is being investigated as a hate crime.
Shibly’s statement reads in part, “Dr. Elkoussa was simply motivated by fear of copycat acts given that investigators said the landlord had been radicalized by emotionally-triggering images from the terrorist attack on Israel. That was the sole intention in removing [the flyers].”
“God forbid, an Israeli child or a Jewish child to be the next victim, or a Muslim child or an Arab child,” said Elkoussa. “It’s not about race. This is not about, you know, politics. It’s about, again, maintaining the peace in our communities and our neighborhoods.”
But Izquierdo said that’s not how he saw it, and CG Smile does not accept Elkoussa’s explanation.
“Yeah, that’s not what we saw in the video,” he said. “We strongly believe in, you know, in making the right decision, and there was that one.”
When asked whether they might reconsider and give Elkoussa his job back, Izquierdo replied, “Not with us.”
Meanwhile, Elkoussa and his attorney are fighting for wrongful termination.
“We are exploring all legal actions to hold his employer accountable, but we will reach out to them first to see if we can amicably resolve this,” said Shibly.
Shibly said that since he took Elkoussa on as a client, he has already received more than half a dozen death threats, and Elkoussa has gotten many more through texts and social media.
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