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The New Arab

Miss Iraq's family forced to 'flee for their lives' following Miss Israel selfie backlash

Iraq and Israel do not hold any official diplomatic relations. [Instagram]

Date of publication: 16 December, 2017

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The family of the Iraqi contestant in the Miss Universe pageant have fled the country following a backlash over photos posted online with her Israeli counterpart.
The family of the Iraqi contestant in the Miss Universe pageant have fled the country following a backlash over photos posted online with her Israeli counterpart and Miss Iraq's modelling in a bikini.

Last month Miss Israel's Adar Gandelsman captioned a picture of herself with Sarah Idan saying: "Get to know, this is Miss Iraq and she's amazing" and uploaded it to her official Instagram account.

Miss Iraq similarly uploaded a picture and captioned it, "peace and love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel".

The photos prompted mixed reactions online, with some social media users accusing Miss Iraq of trivialising the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

Idan defended the picture and said it did not signify her support to the Israeli government, nor is it an acceptance of Tel Aviv's policies.

She later wrote in Arabic on Instagram that it was an expression of hope and a wish for peace and apologised to those who took the image as an insult to the Palestinian cause. 

Miss Israel's Adar Gandelsman told Israeli media on Wednesday that threats had been made against Miss Iraq's family for both the photo and modelling in 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," Adar Gandelsman told Israeli TV.

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

Gandelsman said she has been in regular contact with Idan since the competition, saying that the Miss Iraq contestant - who now lives in America - did not regret her decision to post the photos.

Currently, Iraq and Israel do not hold any official diplomatic relations.

In 2015, Miss Lebanon's Sally Greige risked losing her title and contestant spot in Miss Universe after a selfie of her and Miss Israel was uploaded.

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