Death threats haunt Miss Iraq in wake of selfie controversy


The Iraqi representative in the Miss Universe pageant has reportedly faced death threats after taking a photo with an Israeli contestant.

Sarah Idan, the reigning Miss Iraq, has spoken of how posing with Miss Israel for a selfie during the Miss Universe pageant saw her receiving death threats and forcing her family to flee her home country.

The photo has been liked over 7,000 times.

According to CNN, Idan refused to take the photo down but agreed to post a second explanation saying she doesn't support the Israeli government or its policies in the Middle East.

Residents of Iraq found the Instagram post shocking as the two nations do not have diplomatic relations and are considered enemies.

As the controversy mounted, Idan's family in Iraq began to receive death threats and went into hiding. "Out of fear, they left Iraq at least until the situation calms down", she said.

Idan and Adar Gandelsman, Miss Israel, took a selfie together before the pageant in Las Vegas earlier this year, adding a caption touting "Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel".

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In her separate Instagram post in the Arabic language, she defended the selfie, she wrote, "I want to stress that the objective of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries".

She wrote: "I want to stress that the objective of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries".

Sarah later apologised "to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause".

Aside the photo of the two women, pictures of Miss Idan posing in a bikini also posted on social media further exacerbated bad feeling in Iraq.

"She is very intelligent and she did it for people to understand that it is possible to live together", Gandelsman said.

"I knew that if you work with them then there's a chance you can go to the US", she said in the introduction video presented during the pageant. At 27, she is a "singer, songwriter and musician", and in 2016, won the Miss Iraq USA title in MI. Idan now resides in the United States. "Let me know if you ever in CA".

She's is the first Iraqi beauty queen to participate in Miss Universe since 1972.