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December 15, 2017 11:21 am

‘Millions of Iraqi Women Live in Fear,’ Says Miss Iraq After Her Family Is Forced to Leave Over Photo With Miss Israel

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman, left, and Miss Iraq Sarah Idan. Photo: Instagram.

Miss Iraq Sarah Idan responded on Thursday to the recent revelation that her family was forced to leave her country after she took a photograph with her Israeli counterpart at last month’s Miss Universe pageant.

“I’m not the first nor the last person to face prosecution over a matter of personal freedom. Millions of Iraqi women live in fear,” Idan, who has described herself as a “hardcore feminist,” wrote on Twitter along with the hashtag “freeiraqiwomen.”

The spiral of events began with Idan posting a selfie with Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman on Instagram in November along with the caption, “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.”

The photo caused an online stir and Idan, who is Muslim, was attacked on social media soon after for publising the picture. She did not remove image from her account, but posted a statement in Arabic apologizing “to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause,” the UK’s Jewish Chronicle reported. She added that “posting this does not mean that I am supporting the Israeli government and does not mean that I accept any of their policies toward the Arab world.”

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During a recent interview with Israel’s Hadashot News channel, Gandelsman talked about the incident and revealed that “people made threats against [Idan] and her family that if she didn’t return home and take down the photos, they would remove her title, [and] that they would kill her. Out of fear, they left Iraq at least until the situation calms down.”

Gandelsman — who also posted a picture with Idan on her own Instagram page — added that Miss Iraq now lives in the United States and said she did not regret posting the photo.

“She did it so that people can understand that it’s possible to live together,” Gandelsman explained. “In order for people to see that we can connect, in the end we are both human beings.”

Idan was the first beauty pageant contestant from Iraq to participate in the Miss Universe competition in 45 years.

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