ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The family of Iraq’s Miss Universe Pageant contestant have fled the country due to security reasons over the woman’s modeling in a bikini and posting photos taken with Miss Israel on social media.
During the competition in Las Vegas, United States, in November, both Sarah Idan, Miss Iraq, and Adar Gandelsman, Miss Israel, posed for photos to post on their respective social media pages.
Idan posted a photo of her and Gandelsman with the caption: “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.”
Following the post, Idan, who lives in the United States, said her family faced threats to their lives and were forced to leave Iraq, Gandelsman told Hadashot news.
According to Gandelsman, the Miss Iraq contestant does not regret posting the photos.
“She did it so that people can understand that it’s possible to live together,” she told Hadashot in an interview. “In order for people to see that we can connect; in the end, we are both human beings.”
Despite the controversial news of her family’s forced displacement, Idan has not removed the photo from her Instagram account, instead, defending the picture in a post written in Arabic.
“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 the post.
Idan said the photo does not “signal support for the Israeli government,” adding she apologized if the photo was “harmful to the Palestinian cause.”
A controversial decision last week by US President Donald Trump to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked protests across the Middle East and among Arab and Muslim diasporas around the world.