When people think of dangerous jobs, the role of beauty queen doesn’t come to mind, but the world is learning how risky the role can be. Sarah Idan served as Iraq’s representation at the Miss Universe pageant, a role that would have been uneventful for most. But Idan took a risk by posing for a selfie with the representative from Israel. The photo was published online with a caption that read “Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel.” The gesture warmed the hearts of most people, but a small minority took offense with the action.
The Middle East in general and Iraq, in particular, has always had a rocky relationship with the state of Israel. Iraq has no official diplomatic ties with the state of Israel, with many in Iraq’s government claiming that the entire country is illegitimate. Miss Israel might not be an official in the Israeli government, but many saw the selfie as an endorsement of the state and quickly rose up online.
The worst of the backlash has been death threats. Idan has faced a large number of death threats online, but the most worrying have been threats made to her family. Idan lives in the US, but many members of her family still live in Iraq and could face serious consequences for her actions. Still, Idan refused to take the photo down.
Idan has made it clear that she wasn’t trying to be critical of the country she was representing. A follow-up post stated that she wasn’t trying to endorse the Israeli government, which she has plenty of issues with. She was only trying to encourage understanding and peace between the average Israelis and Iraqis who only want a peaceful existence.