Sarah Idan, the Miss Iraq contestant for the Miss Universe pageant, charged that the Miss Iraq Organization lied when they denied threatening to take her title away if she refused to remove a picture of her smiling next to Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, accompanied by a message of hope for peace.
“I have proof showing they threatened to take my title away if I didn’t remove the picture,” Idan, 27, told CNN, after reports surfaced that the Miss Iraq Organization denied threatening to strip her of her title, according to the Times of Israel. “They threatened to take my title many times.”
She reportedly added, “The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they’re getting heat from the ministry,” Idan told the Times of Israel. “He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.”
Idan was the first Iraqi contestant in the Miss Universe pageant in 45 years.
Faced with mounting death threats over her picture with Miss Israel, and several photos of her in a bikini, her family was reportedly forced to flee Iraq. “The government has been scary quiet. And when they’re this quiet, you don’t know what waits for you at home,” she noted.
Idan said, “I was crying to my mom and felt like it’s my fault they left, and she said, ‘no, it’s not your fault, we live in a f****d up society.'”
She refused to take the photo of her and Miss Israel down. The caption on her Instagram account reads, “Peace and love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel,” along with several hearts.
Idan also noted that she wanted to “stress that the purpose of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries,” before she apologized “to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause.”