Miss Iraq Sarah Idan’s family were forced to flee Iraq after the beauty pageant queen posed for a selfie with her Israeli counterpart, Adar Gandelsman at a pre-pageant photo shoot in November.
But the image of the two representatives of countries that touched a nerve and provoked intense discussion on social media.
Idan and her family “woke up” to death threats six days before the pageant, she told CNN. The Miss Iraq organization also called for her to take down the image, she said. She also received death threats during the preliminary competitions in which she wore a bikini.
11.3k Likes, 3,125 Comments – Sarah Idan (Sarai) سارة عيدان (@sarahidan) on Instagram: “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel ❤️❤️💕💕 #missuniverse”
But last week the controversy continued when Idan’s family was forced to flee their country, Miss Israel told Israeli media, the Jerusalem Post reports.
It was pointed out by YouTuber Sabrina Bennoui that posting a photo of the two pageant contestants together was “not to everyone’s taste” given the lack of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Some in the Arab world who accuse Israel of abuses reacted with anger to the image. Asaad Abukhalil, a professor based in the US, tweeted: “The beauty queen of Iraq is happily posing with the beauty queen of occupation and brutality.”
In response to the divisive photo, Idan issued a statement on Instagram a day after the original image was posted. In it, she said Miss Israel approached her at the photo shoot and expressed her hope for peace between their two nations.
She argued the photo did not show support for Israel and was not supposed to be offensive to Palestine, adding the photo was “merely a call to peace and hope for a solution” to the Israel-Palestine crisis.