Who is Lianne Wadi? Woman's racist tweets ruin her Palestinian immigrant dad's $5M Minnesota biz
'#IfIwasPresident I'd finish off what hitler started and rule the world,' Lianne Wadi had tweeted back in 2012 as a teenager
Minneapolis restaurant owner Majid Wadi, who founded the popular Middle-Eastern food chain Holy Land, has blamed 'cancel culture' in the US for losing his business. He faced severe backlash from Black Lives Matter supporters after his daughter Lianne Wadi's old racist tweets resurfaced on social media in 2020. Speaking recently on Bari Weiss's podcast 'Honestly', Majid revealed that he lost over $5M in business contracts and had to lay off 69 expert employees from his restaurant last year following the controversy.
Lianne, who previously worked at Holy Land as a catering director, was fired by her father after she was vehemently slammed for her old tweets. She apologized for her questionable actions as a teenager, but that did little to curb the outrage against her family business. "This mob, they were very powerful in a way. For example, I remember a guy writing a tweet defending Holy Land and saying, no Holy Land is a good family. They attacked him and they canceled him...this is what scared me the most. This is not what America's about," Majid said on the podcast.
Who is Lianne Wadi?
According to Daily Mail, Lianne Wadi's father Majid was a Palestinian refugee born in Kuwait, who later immigrated to the US in 1992. He built his restaurant from nothing and turned it into a highly sought-after eatery chain in Minneapolis. Eventually, the business expanded and branched into grocery stores, bakery and catering services. The 'Holy Land' franchise became especially known for its hummus and other Middle-Eastern recipes which were also sold at various retail outlets.
In June 2020, when Minneapolis was rattled by the brutal custodial murder of George Floyd and consequent Black Lives Matter protests, the Wadis became avid supporters of the movement. They even showed their solidarity by flaunting BLM banners from their stores as well as donating food for free to demonstrators. In fact, Lianne herself marched in the BLM protest rallies. However, Lianne's tweets from 2012, which she had even deleted long back, mysteriously resurfaced around that time. The highly offensive tweets portrayed racist sentiments against Black people and the Jewish community. Some of her tweets were also blatantly homophobic and body-shaming.
For instance, in one of the tweets, she wrote, "Top 3 races you wish to eliminate. Ready, go! Jews, blacks, and the fats." Another tweet said, "#IfIwasPresident I'd finish off what hitler started and rule the world," while a third one said, "Holy s**t. I just realized. Blacks are just as bad as Jews. #GasEmAll" I've always known!!"
Soon after her tweets came into the limelight, Holy Land faced the wrath of BLM protesters and other community members who slammed the brand widely. Their social media was flooded with hate comments, while some of their customers and employees were even harassed at the storefronts or parking lots.
"I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart. They were such, like, horrible and vile things, and that's not who I am. It's not what I believe in," Lianne said in a televised apology at that time. Soon after, her father fired her from Holy Land, stating, "I was facing a tough decision as a dad and as a CEO. As a dad I know who my daughter has become, but as a CEO for this company I have 189 families that live off my business, and if this demand from the people that they're sending us messages and calling, I give it to them although I feel it's not fair for my daughter."
In the latest podcast with Weiss, Majid Wadi also shared about how his brand has been targeted by protesters ever since the incident last year. "Hopefully this will calm the anger down, but still it did not. They have my home address in the social media... People asking other people to come attack where I live. I had to evacuate the home for 10 days, live in the secret place where nobody knows where my family is."
Additionally, a landlord revoked the company's lease at their flagship location in Minneapolis Midtown Global Market. Due to the losses, Majid Wadi was forced to lay off one-third of his employees, many of whom had worked for 'Holy Land' for over 15 to 20 years.
Meanwhile, Lianne Wadi found employment at another restaurant but was soon thrown out by angry protesters. Now she is planning to move abroad to start afresh. " She's beating herself up. She still believes that she's responsible for all the people who lost their job. Honestly, I'm so worried and concerned about her," Majid Wadi lamented about his daughter.