Last month, two 2017 Miss Universe contestants from “enemy states” demonstrated world peace by posing together for a photo. And while much of the world was touched, one of those women is now facing repercussions some warned her of.
Miss Universe Iraq, Sarah Idan, has fled the country with her family, according to Miss Universe Israel, Adar Gandelsman. “We chose to do the picture and we continued almost every day together, and since then we’ve been in touch, talking all the time,” Gandelsman told an Israel TV news program. The result of that powerful friendship and Idan’s participation in the competition has reportedly forced her to leave the country with her family, Gandelsman said. Not only was the picture considered controversial, but Idan was also shunned for modeling in a bikini, which is customary for a beauty pageant, but Islam is the majority religion in Iraq, according to the U.S. Department of State.
“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,” The Times of Israel translated Gandelsman’s interview. “Out of fear, they left Iraq at least until the situation calms down,” the contestant added. Idan now resides in the United States.
In November, Gandelsman and Idan took selfies together and shared them to their respective profiles, with thousands of followers. Gandelsman captioned the Instagram post, “Get to know, this is Miss Iraq and she’s amazing.” On Facebook, she added, “With Miss Iraq, Practicing bringing world peace.” Idan shared her sentiments on her Instagram, writing, “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.”
Idan’s post received a lot of negative attention, including threats, so she felt the need to explain herself. “I want to stress that the purpose of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries,” she wrote (in Arabic) in a later Instagram post.
She added that the photo “does not signal support for the government of Israel and does not mean I agree or accept its policies in the Arab homeland.” Idan went on to apologize “to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause.”
Apparently that wasn’t enough to appease the population.
“She is very intelligent and she did it for people to understand that it is possible to live together,” Gandelsman said. “In order for people to see that we can connect, in the end we are both human beings.”
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