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'That's Not Who I Am': Lianne Wadi Fired By Father, Holy Land CEO, After Racist Posts Resurface

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The CEO of Holy Land, a chain of gourmet groceries, bakeries and delis in the Twin Cities, has announced the decision to fire his own daughter after racist posts from her past resurfaced.

CEO Majdi Wadi addressed the incident on the company's Facebook page Thursday morning.

"As a business that was formed by immigrants, we do not tolerate this type of behavior because it is completely against our beliefs and faith," Majdi Wadi said.

Wadi went on to explain that while his daughter, Lianne Wadi, was a teenager when she made the racist posts, her employment with the company has been terminated.

Holy Land Wadi Family
(credit: CBS)

"I believe that these social media posts do not accurately reflect who my daughter is as a person now, as she has been involved in bettering herself and her community by donating her time and energy to advocate for all people of color," Majdi Wadi said. "Prior to these posts surfacing, my daughter has already been participating in the protests for the [Black Lives Matter] movement. I have personally observed her provide aid to families and businesses throughout the Twin Cities and will continue to do so."

He added that he sincerely apologizes for the "senseless slurs" and pledges to ensure that his family and team members all demonstrate high integrity and moral compass guidelines moving forward.

"We understand your right to feel frustrated and upset," he said. "We vow to further educate ourselves, grow, and better ourselves both as a company and as a family."

Following the announcement, Midtown Global Market posted to their Facebook page announcing the termination of their lease with Holy Land Grocery, Butcher Shop & Deli.

Lianne Wadi spoke exclusively to WCCO Thursday night, where she reflected on her comments, and how she hopes to learn from them.

"I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart," Wadi said. "They were such, like, horrible and vile things, and that's not who I am. It's not what I believe in."

Wadi says she posted the tweets and Instagram posts with racial slurs eight years ago.

"Those statements were made a long time ago, and like I was in a different place in my life," she said. "They in no way, shape or form reflect who I am as a person today."

For over a week, the windows at the market have been covered in signs in support of the Black Lives Matters movement in response to George Floyd's death. But as of Thursday, they're covered in signs that say they've cut ties with Holy Land Deli and Grocery.

Lianne Wadi
Lianne Wadi (credit: CBS)

Sade Hashi, owner of Safari Express at Midtown Global Market, says he believes the racist social media posts do not align with what the Midtown Global Market represents.

"It's pretty shocking," Hashi said. "This space is a safe space for a lot of people in the community."

Customer Lelie Gitaa is happy to see Midtown Global Market end their lease with Holy Land. She says their decision sends a bold message.

"Just to show that, hey, sometimes sorrys aren't just the only thing that are OK," Gitaa said. "You have to take action sometimes, and that's just all the community needs."

The company has its flagship location in northeast Minneapolis. There is also a location at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, but the venue is owned and operated by Midfield Concessions, and not the Wadi family. There is no word on how their other locations will be impacted, if at all.

Late Thursday night WCCO learned the owner is hiring an outside company to teach the employees about racial discrimination

Here is Wadi's full statement, which was posted to Instagram Thursday:

I would like to thank the individuals who have brought a previous post from my past to my attention. I am deeply mortified and disgusted by my prior statements. I would like to start by saying it is unacceptable and I deeply and sincerely apologize. This social media posts were brought to my attention and I deleted it right away. First, I was so shocked that I even posted something so offensive. Second, I recognize the gravity of my words and how hurtful they can be and how hurtful they were. I wasn't thinking. I was a teenager at the time (although my youth is not an excuse) and wasn't educated on how the words I chose would affect and offend others, including myself. Over the years, I have grown and I have took it upon myself to learn and understand how my words and actions can affect other people. I have challenged myself to unlearn the behavior that society led me to believe was okay. To demonstrate my growth. I now advocate for others to do the same because I understand how one can be so blinded with what they think is acceptable. I am so deeply embarrassed and hope you know that this is not who I am as a person. Every day, I continue to better myself by educating myself, my friends, family, peers, and community. I strongly believe in and wholeheartedly support the Black Lives Matter movement. I have recognized my privilege and use my privilege to better my community and those around me, specifically, on the social and racial injustices our black community members face on a daily basis. I promise to continue to advocate, and commit my time to listening, learning, and being an ally of every minority and person of color. I kindly invite anyone to reach out to me if you would like to further discuss what I can do to help better myself and my community. I take complete responsibility for my actions.

A post shared by Lianne Wadi (@liannewadi) on Jun 4, 2020 at 1:05am PDT


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