London - The family of an Iraqi beauty queen has been forced to flee the country after she posed for a selfie with Miss Israel.
Iraq’s Sarah Idan and Israel’s Adar Gandelsman were at a Miss Universe pageant in Las Vegas last month.
The two countries are enemies, but the selfie appeared on 27-year-old Miss Idan’s Instagram page with references to ‘peace and love’.
It caused so much anger in Iraq that Miss Idan’s family had to leave the country after death threats.
Miss Idan, a Muslim, had written on Facebook how honoured she was to be the first Iraqi woman in 45 years to represent her country in the competition.
She also posed in a bikini, angering some in her country who believe women should dress modestly.
A post shared by Sarah Idan (Sarai) سارة عيدان (@sarahidan) on
Miss Gandelsman, 20, told an Israeli TV station: ‘The two of those things together caused a mess for her back home. People made threats against her and her family that if she didn’t take down the photos, they would kill her.’ She added that Miss Idan’s family had left Iraq ‘out of fear’.
Miss Idan has defended the selfie, saying its purpose ‘was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries’ and was not a show of support for the government of Israel.
She said Miss Gandelsman had told her ‘she hopes that one day there will be peace between the two religions [Judaism and Islam]’.
Miss Idan, who now lives in the United States, was born and raised in Baghdad. Following the US-led invasion in 2003, she worked with the American military from 2008. She later moved to the States and studied for a music degree in Los Angeles.