Miss Iraq’s family was forced to flee their native Iraq for fear of their lives after photos of her smiling next to Miss Israel, as well as pictures of her in a bikini, taken during the Miss Universe Pageant last month surfaced online.
Sarah Idan, who represented Iraq in the beauty pageant, lives in the United States.
“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,” Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman said, according to the Times of Israel.
“Out of fear, they left Iraq at least until the situation calms down,” Gandelsman reportedly said.
Idan posted a picture of her with Gandelsman on her Instagram account with the caption, “Peace and love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel,” along with several hearts.
Galdeslman posted a similar picture on her Instagram account, writing, “Get to know, this is Miss Iraq and she’s amazing.”
Last month, Idan reportedly apologized to all those offended, writing, “I want to stress that the purpose of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries.” She added, “to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause.”
This is not the first time the Arab world has reacted to beauty pageants with such fervor.
In August, then-Miss Lebanon, Amanda Hanna, was stripped of her crown and title after it was discovered that she traveled to Israel, which is forbidden by Lebanese law.
In 2015, then-Miss Lebanon, Sally Greige faced calls to strip her title after she appeared in a photo with then-Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, and two other beauty queens.
Greige had defended herself at the time by saying Matalon harassed her into taking a picture with her.
“From the first day I arrived at the Miss Universe pageant I was very careful not to take any pictures with Miss Israel, who tried repeatedly to take pictures with me,” Greige wrote. “While I was preparing with Miss Slovenia and Miss Japan to get our photograph taken, Miss Israel jumped in and took a selfie with her phone and posted it on social media.”