Selfie controversy still haunts Miss Iraq with death threats

Miss Iraq and Miss Israel

Last month, two 2017 Miss Universe contestants from "enemy states" demonstrated world peace by posing together for a photo.

Miss Universe Iraq, Sarah Idan, has fled the country with her family, according to Miss Universe Israel, Adar Gandelsman.

The photo has been liked over 7,000 times.

Idan said she has no regrets and is refusing to delete the photo.

Iraq doesn't recognise Israel as a state, and holds Jews responsible for victimising Muslims in and around Palestine. "Out of fear, they left Iraq at least until the situation calms down", the contestant added.

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Ms Gandelsman told the Hadashot News channel that Ms Idan's family was being threatened after the two had taken a selfie together and she had posed in a bikini during the pageant.

On Idan's account, the photo's caption reportedly read, "Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel".

She wrote: "I want to stress that the goal of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries".

This publication is not an endorsement of the Israeli government and it does not mean agreeing or accepting their policies in Arab world.

Sarah later apologised "to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause".

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The women's decision to post the picture, and Idan not taking it down despite threats, also shows that beauty pageants are not frivolous ogle fests, that the platform is being used by women to raise important issues, that glamour is meaningful and powerful.

"She did it ... so that people can understand that it's possible to live together", Gandelsman later said.

Idan told CNN, "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'". "He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title".

The photo of her with Gandelsman is still up. The selfie, plus controversy over her choice to compete in a bikini for the Miss Universe swimsuit round, led to Idan receiving death threats. "I'm not afraid", she said.

"I always knew what I wanted to do in my life".

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Idan now lives in the United States, according to her Facebook page. She didn't place in the Miss Universe pageant, but she's doubled down on using the selfie with Miss Israel to promote peace.

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