Miss Iraq receives death threats over selfie with Miss Israel

The Iraqi representative in the Miss Universe pageant has reportedly faced death threats after taking a photo with an Israeli contestant.

Sarah Idan, Miss Iraq, told CNN that her family has been forced to flee the country.

Idan and Adar Gandelsman, Miss Israel, took a selfie together before the pageant in Las Vegas earlier this year, adding a caption touting “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.” 

"When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback," Idan told CNN. "I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary."

Idan told CNN that the Miss Iraq organization threatened to strip her of her Miss Iraq title over the photo, and that she and her family have received death threats.

"People in Iraq recognized my family, they immediately knew who they were. And they were getting death threats,” she said.

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The Miss Iraq Organization pushed back on Idan’s claims, telling CNN that they did not threaten to strip her title, but only asked her to clarify “what happened.” Idan maintains that the organization did threaten her if she did not remove the photo, and that it was “trying to scare” her and her family.

Idan posted again after the selfie to clarify that the photo was not an endorsement of the Israeli government, with whom Iraq has no diplomatic relations.

Idan told CNN that her family has been forced to leave Iraq, and that she is afraid to return, even to get her national ID and passport renewed. Idan did not place in the November pageant, and has reportedly returned to her home in Los Angeles.