Miss Iraq’s family forced to flee due to her friendship with Miss Israel

After posting Instagram pictures together with the Israeli contestant during the Miss Universe competition, death threats have forced relatives to escape to the United States.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, became friendly with fellow contestant Adar Gandelsman, the Israeli contestant in the Miss Universe International Beauty Pageant held in Las Vegas last month. They even posted pictures together on Instagram, wishing “love and peace” to all – but the reaction of Idan’s fellow countrymen has been anything but peaceful.

So many people posted comments that cursed her for this act that the 27-year-old beauty queen felt she had to defend herself, noting in another post that the picture only showed her desire for peace and “does not signal support for the government of Israel and does not mean I agree or accept its policies in the Arab homeland.” And she apologized to anyone who considered it “harmful to the Palestinian cause.” But, courageously, she did not remove the photo from her account.

Idan’s participation in the swimsuit competition of the event also aroused great anger, with her family actually leaving Baghdad temporarily after being threatened by their more conservative relatives after that preliminary round of the pageant. However, Miss Israel told Israeli TV Wednesday that Idan’s relatives have now been forced to leave Iraq because of the anger over their joint picture, as well as ones of her modeling in a bikini.

“The two of those things together caused a mess for her back home where people made threats against her and her family that if she didn’t return home and take down the photos, they would remove her (Miss Iraq) title, that they would kill her,” Adar Gandelsman said.

Idan already lives in the US, having moved there after serving as a linguist with the American-led coalition forces in Baghdad in 2009. She graduated from Los Angeles’ Musician Institute with a degree in performance arts. Her dream, she said in her introductory video for the beauty competition, was to be a musician and songwriter.

Idan is only the second Iraqi to ever participate in the Miss Universe pageant, the first one since Wijdan Burhan El-Deen Sulyman did so in 1972.