Video of two women leaving Erie County Court in August and making anti-America comments sparked an outrage on social media. It happened after Ahmed Alshami, 37, a Yemeni-born citizen with a green card to live in the U.S., was charged with burglary and welfare fraud then ordered held on $2 million dollars bail.
Erie County prosecutors claim Alshami was buying food stamp cards from people for less than their face value and then using the cards to purchase products to sell in the corner store that he helped operate with his family in Buffalo's Lovejoy District. Alshami is also accused of entering a rental property to steal cabinets, hot water tank and heating units.
Alshami's wife, Nadia Alhaj, tells 7 Eyewitness News reporter Ed Reilly that she now regrets making those comments and wanted to apologize publicly.
"If you got mad about what I say to the F-word to America, I say I am sorry. I apologize. I say it that time because I was mad . . . so, forgive me."
Alhaj, a U.S. citizen who has lived in this county for 23 years, said she was just overwhelmed and angry when she heard her husband had such a high bail for a $3,800 alleged crime.
"If I didn't like America, I wouldn't spend money to open a business and raise my kids in America," added Alhaj.
However, the Yemeni-born woman said she and her family have now been the target of harassment and death threats through social media - especially after the City of Buffalo closed down her family-run corner store this week for violations connected to cigarette sales, used items and property maintenance.
"Some people say we hope they die, they burn, they should have their heads cut off," explained Alhaj, who added that the comments are scaring some of her four children.
The controversy concerning the IGA Community Express Mart on Ludington Street is generating mixed opinions from people who live in the neighborhood. Some feel the family should not have to suffer for the alleged sins of the father, while others say the store was a growing problem for residents because they suspected that it was becoming a hang-out for the drug crowd.
7 Eyewitness News reporter Ed Reilly spoke with the family and residents about the issue.
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