Essex man at center of controversy speaks out - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Essex man at center of controversy speaks out

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ESSEX, Vt. -

An Essex man is trying to repair his relationship with neighbors after a flag burning incident and car explosion left everyone on edge.

Maher Elhashami says he burnt an American flag because it touched the ground, but didn't realize he went about it the wrong way.

The incident worried neighbors, and early Tuesday morning Elhashami's car exploded into flame.

Local and state police as well as federal agents are investigating the matter.

In the meantime, Elhashami wants to assure his neighbors he's not a threat and is just as scared as they are.

Maher Elhashami said Saturday, "I wanted to apologize to anyone - Americans - who took burning the flag in the wrong way. I did not do anything to intentionally bother anybody or to be bad to anybody."

Elhashami has been a U.S. citizen since 1993, and says this country has given him far more opportunity than his homeland of Egypt.

Some neighbors say they hope to move forward and rebuild trust, others say they're still skeptical.

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