Beauty queen who lost Iraqi citizenship for taking selfie with Miss Israel makes congressional run for Democrats

“I just feel like sadly the Democratic party has been hijacked by loud voices of far-left socialists and I don’t think they represent many of the people with liberal views.”

By Shiryn Ghermezian, Algemeiner

Human rights activist, former Miss Universe contestant and Iraq native Sarah Idan has filed with the Federal Election Commission and is officially running to represent California’s 30th District in the US House of Representatives.

The Los Angeles resident and founder of the non-profit bipartisan organization Humanity Forward will be running as a Democrat for a position in Congress currently held by Representative Adam Schiff, who is vacating the seat to run for the Senate in 2024. If she wins, she will be the first Iraqi female immigrant and secular Muslim Zionist in history to be elected to Congress, she told The Algemeiner.

“I don’t think there’s a better candidate to represent minority groups than me being an immigrant, Muslim woman and coming from Iraq, a country directly affected by US [foreign] policies,” the 33-year-old explained. “My voice is definitely the voice of the minority and in Congress, I feel like we need an Iraqi voice.”

Idan was born in 1990 in Baghdad and is the second youngest of five kids. When she was 18, she volunteered with the US Army in Iraq as a translator. She moved to America two years later and became a US citizen in 2015. Her late father, who died in 2021 from COVID-19, was a military engineer for Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party but left the party when he saw Hussein orchestrate violent attacks.

Idan is also the founder and CEO of Humanity Forward, which is “committed to building bridges among Muslims and Jews in order to surpass borders and promote reconciliation, tolerance, mutual understanding, and peace,” according to its website. She hosts a podcast called the Sarai Talk Show and received the Ambassador for Peace Award by UN Watch in 2019.

Idan represented Iraq in the Miss Universe pageant in 2017. She received death threats and was forced to leave her home country after posing with Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman during the competition. Her citizenship from Iraq was also revoked because of the incident and her family was forced to flee the country in the aftermath of the scandal. Her family now lives in another Arab country that have formal relations with Israel. Idan has continued to push for solidarity with Israel as well as defend the country and promote the normalization of relations with the Jewish state.

The issues that are the core of Idan’s election campaign include tackling the crime rates in Los Angeles, poverty, homelessness, inflation, strengthening relations with Israel, and building more opportunities for Israel and California to support each others economic growth. She told The Algemeiner that in the MENA region, Israel is “one of the only true allies to actually support the United States and share the same ideology.”

Idan has criticized in the past Democrats such as Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and other members of the Congressional “Squad” for making remarks critical of Jews and Israel. The former beauty queen told The Algemeiner they are one of the main reasons why she is running for Congress.

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“I just feel like sadly the Democratic party has been hijacked by loud voices of far-left socialists and I don’t think they represent many of the people with liberal views,” she said. “They have taken it to an extreme. It’s not only about social issues. Even when it comes to foreign policy and their involvement with basically enemies of the US and trying to always attack our allies in the Middle East [like Israel].”

“Even the woman rights movement in Iran,” she adding, talking about how Omar defamed Iranian journalist and human rights activist Masih Alinejad as “Islamophobic” — even though she was born a Muslim in Iran — and shared an article on Twitter in 2020 that questioned the latter’s credentials as she continues to advocate for women’s rights in Iran. Omar’s husband also accused Alinejad on Twitter of not liking Muslims.

“This is why I feel like we need a voice like mine because we need a secular Muslim,” Idan explained. “I want to be the voice of reason and I hate how ‘The Squad,’ whenever anyone questions them, [like] when they attack Israel, they always [claim] ‘I’m being targeted because I’m a Muslim, a woman of color.’ I just feel like we need someone like me who can literally say, ‘No, this is not why. I’m an Arab, Muslim, immigrant woman of color and I do not share your ideology or agenda.’”

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Idan also believes that she can bring to Congress something that many others can’t, which is first-hand experience of what it’s like to live in the Middle East. She explained that some members of the “The Squad” like Omar — whose family fled Somalia as refugees — left their home countries when they were very young and as refugees “so they don’t have a clue about the geo-politics and problems in the Middle East.”

“As an activist who is involved and comes from the Middle East, I would represent a more realistic picture of what’s going on rather than people who came here when they were refugees at a very young age and never dealt with what I went through and am still going through until today, me and my family,” Idan added. “I have all this passion and I really want to be involved because I am directly affected by all these decisions, by what Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib and AOC [New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] are pushing. My family is in danger. I’m in danger. I’m not welcome in Iraq and I’ll probably get killed the minute I land there. We need secular Muslims [in Congress] and Muslims who believe in freedom and want to be a non-radical voice.”

California’s 30th Congressional district election will be held on Nov. 5, 2024.