Miss Iraq's family flee the country after this selfie with Miss Israel sparks death threats
A moment of connection between two women has spiralled into something far more troubling recently, all stemming from one selfie. Both Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan (also spelt Eedan) and Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, have faced a backlash as they took a photo together in Tokyo, where they were competing in the International Beauty Pageant in November this year.
Idan grew up in Iraq, but moved to the United States to study music, where she currently resides. Writing on Facebook, she expressed how honored she felt to be the first Iraqi woman in 45 years to be representing her country in the Miss Universe competition.
They both posted photos together on their respective Instagram accounts, with Idan's caption reading: "Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel" and Gandelsman's reading: "Get to know, this is Miss Iraq and she's amazing".
But now it has been revealed that the Iraqi beauty pageant contestant's family have been forced to leave the country after the friendship was revealed to the world. Miss Gandelsman told Israel's Hadashot newspaper that her friend's family fled the country to ensure her own safety, as reported by the Jerusalem Post last Thursday.
After the photo was released there were numerous reactions, as many take issue with Israel's policies of land ownership and treatment of the Palestinian people, and there are no current diplomatic relations between the country and Iraq. "The beauty queen of Iraq is happily posing with the beauty queen of occupation and brutality," a professor based in the US tweeted.
Ms Eedan issued a statement on Instagram, explaining that Miss Israel had approached her at the photo shoot and expressed her hope for harmony. “I want to stress that the purpose of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries,” she wrote in the post, going on to explain that the photo doesn't have anything to do with the support of the Israeli government or the Palestinian cause.
"She asked if I would like to take a picture together. I told her I would be glad to help spread the message. The aim of the photo was an expression of hope for world peace."
"I would like to apologise to anyone who considered the photo to be offensive to the Palestinian cause as this was not the aim behind the post, it was merely a call to peace and hope for a solution to the crisis."
In Israel, the Prime Minster's spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman, praised the photo, calling it a "great message of hope for the region".
Gandelsman explained that the photo was taken sot that "people can understand that it’s possible to live together, in order for people to see that we can connect, in the end we are both human beings.”
While this incident seems to have been blown completely out of proportion, it just goes to show how delicate the situation still is.