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Family of Miss Iraq Forced to Flee After Receiving Death Threats Over Instagram Photo Alongside Miss Israel

( [email protected] ) Dec 15, 2017 10:48 AM EST
The family of Iraq's contestant in the Miss Universe Pageant were forced to flee the country due to threats to their lives over her posting on social media photos taken with Miss Israel.
Miss Israel and Miss Iraq posed together to demonstrate "that it’s possible to live together." Instagram

The family of Iraq's contestant in the Miss Universe Pageant were forced to flee the country due to threats to their lives over her posting on social media photos taken with Miss Israel.

According to the Times of Israel, the controversy began after Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted the photo to Instagram on November 3 and captioned it, "Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel," in addition to modeling a bikini.

"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, told Israeli TV, the paper reported.

"Out of fear, they left Iraq at least until the situation calms down," the Miss Universe Israel contestant added, referring to the family of Miss Iraq.

Gandelsman, who said she has been in contact with Idan since the competition, said her friend does not regret the decision to post the photos despite backlash.

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

Idan has since defended her decision to pose with Gandelsman and said she posted the photo "to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries."

She added that the photo of the two Miss Universe contestants "does not signal support for the government of Israel and does not mean I agree or accept its policies in the Arab homeland."

Idan went on to apologize "to all those who consider [the picture] harmful to the Palestinian cause," but said she hopes there will someday be peace between Jews and Muslims.

Gandelsman also shared the photo in an Instagram post along with the caption, "Get to know, this is Miss Iraq and she's amazing."

Iraq country does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, and the two countries are considered enemies, the Times of Israel reported.

Several comments on the photo were negative -- but most applauded the two women for their courage.

"Both of you are beautiful and strong outside and inside," wrote one commenter.

"Great Pic and powerful statement! 'And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love,'" wrote another.

"Thank you for your courage and taking a stand for peace!! We need to see each other and listen to each other and most of all find the places where we have common ground and build and compromise from there for a peaceful future!!" reads another comment.

"Good for the both of you! Love and goodwilll transcends all political barriers of hate and mistrust (sic). It is a shame many can't see the inner goodness of heart as you both do! Best wishes!" wrote another.

Tags : Adar Gandelsman, Sarah Idan, Miss Israel, Miss Iraq, Instagram, Instagram Photo, Miss Universe