Miss Iraq's Selfie With Miss Israel Continues To Haunt Beauty Queen

A beauty queen from Iraq was excited about being able to participate in the Miss Universe pageant. It's the first time in over 45 years that her country had a representative in the world-wide pageant. She thought she was getting the opportunity to be an 'ambassador for peace', but as soon as she started posting images online, she began getting death threats from her own people.

Miss Iraq Sarah Idan's dream come true was getting to go to the Miss Universe pageant, but it quickly turned into a nightmare after she posted a selfie of herself and Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman. With strained international relations between Israel and Iraq, the photo caused quite a stir. The backlash came much to Idan's surprise.

"I said 'let's take a picture so our people can see we don't have a problem and we're actually ambassadors for peace,'" she told CNN.

She captioned the photo 'Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel'. By the time she woke up the next morning, however, the image had gone viral and response had spiraled out of control.

"When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback," Idan says. "I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary."

The Miss Iraq organization called her and warned her to take down the selfie. They said if she didn't, they would strip her of her title. "The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title," she explains.

Idan refused to take the photo down, but the beauty queen became frightened for her family still living in Iraq, particularly her mother. She called to figure out what to do. "My mom was freaking out. I told her 'Mom, just get out. Get out.' I told her I'm sorry and asked if she wants me to leave the competition. I was ready to drop out right then."

Since she refused to take down the selfie, she was forced to go back on social media and post that she didn't support the Israeli government or its policies in the Middle East. She was also forced to apologize to people who think 'it's an attack for the Palestinian cause'.

She was also forced to choose a more modest swimsuit for the televised competition because of the stir her initial suit caused in the preliminary round. All photos of her in the bikini were wiped off the website.

Meanwhile, Idan's family quietly slipped out of the country. "People in Iraq recognized my family, they immediately knew who they were. And they were getting death threats," she reported.

Idan's mother, as she was leaving the country, was told her daughter would have to come back to Iraq to reapply for the national ID. Idan had dual citizenship. She is afraid to travel back to her homeland now because of the outcry.

Idan is trying to move on and represent her country for the competition, but she's struggling with how angry and frightened the entire uproar made her, all over a selfie. She hopes, however, that the people who gave her a hard time won't make others think badly about her homeland.

"A lot of people have the wrong idea about Iraq, and while we do have extremists, we also have good people," she says. "Most of the good people go unnoticed."

Source: CNN
Photo: Sarah Idan, YouTube

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