BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Miss Universe beauty pageant is the latest casualty of the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East. Sarah Idan, who represented Iraq during the international competition in November, says she has received death threats after posting a selfie of herself alongside Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman.
“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.”
The Iraqi government, which has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel, reportedly threatened to strip the 27-year-old of her national title if she did not take down the photo which had been posted on Instagram. Idan has refused to delete the picture from her account and urged her parents to leave the country because of the backlash.
“My mom was freaking out. I told her ‘Mom, just get out. Get out.’ I told her I’m sorry and asked if she wants me to leave the competition. I was ready to drop out right then,” the aspiring singer added. Idan stayed in the competition and was Iraq’s first representative in the pageant in 45 years.
The Los Angeles resident, who has dual U.S. and Iraqi citizenship, says she is afraid to return to her home country to renew her Iraqi passport. Idan’s family has also left Iraq because of the wave of death threats one selfie has unleashed.