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Death threats haunt Miss Iraq for taking selfie with Isreal beauty queen


Nearly a month ago, Sarah Idan was in a hand-beaded Swarovski crystal gown representing Iraq in the Miss Universe pageant. It was the first time in 45 years that Iraq had a contestant in the pageant.
“I was on cloud nine, I had been dreaming of that forever,” said Idan, 27, an aspiring singer/songwriter.
But all of that suddenly changed. And it was all over a selfie.
A selfie seen around the world.
Idan and Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, took the picture during a pre-pageant photo shoot in Las Vegas.
“I said ‘let’s take a picture so our people can see we don’t have a problem and we’re actually ambassadors for peace.'”
In the caption, she wrote “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.”
Sarah Idan winning the 2016 Miss Iraq USA pageant. Sarah Idan winning the 2016 Miss Iraq USA pageant. The reaction wasn’t what she expected.
Six days before the pageant, she woke up to threats from the Miss Iraq organization, warning her to take down the photo or she’d be stripped of the title.
Others threatened her life.
She immediately called her family who was living in Iraq.
“My mom was freaking out. I told her ‘Mom, just get out. Get out.’ I told her I’m sorry and asked if she wants me to leave the competition. I was ready to drop out right then.”
Idan says she was also being threatened online because she wore a bikini during one of the preliminary competitions.
But it was the selfie with Miss Israel that had the most serious repercussions. Iraq and Israel don’t have any formal diplomatic relations, so the picture was causing an international outcry.
Idan didn’t talk to the media about the controversy so her parents and other family members could quietly leave Iraq.
“People in Iraq recognized my family, they immediately knew who they were. And they were getting death threats.”
Idan, who has dual US and Iraqi citizenship, was trying to get her Iraqi passport renewed during the pageant.
Before her family fled the country, she said her mother was told at the passport office in Baghdad that she would have to reapply for the passport.
That would require her to travel back to Iraq, which she says she’s afraid to do.
Sarah Idan represents Iraq in the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant at The Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on November 26, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In the days before the Miss Universe pageant, Idan says she was feeling angry about the fallout from the selfie and being forced to wear a more modest swimsuit in the televised competition.
She says Miss Universe organizers wiped all her bikini photos off the web.
The day of the pageant, she tried to put the drama behind her and focus on representing her country.
“A lot of people have the wrong idea about Iraq, and while we do have extremists, we also have good people,” she says. “Most of the good people go unnoticed.”

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