Sarah Idan, 29, represented Iraq at the 2017 Miss Universe. She’s now facing the loss of her citizenship after expressing support for Israel
Miss Iraq 2017 says she faces being stripped of her Iraqi citizenship after speaking out against the state and in support of Israel at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Sarah Idan, 29, who now lives in California, appeared twice before the 41st session of the UNHRC on June 25 and 26.
While there she testified in support of Arab-Israeli peace, condemned the acts of terror committed by Hamas and the human-rights abuses under the Iraqi government.
‘The issue between Arabs and Israelis goes beyond policy disagreements. It’s deeply rooted in the belief systems taught in Muslim countries, which are anti-Semitic,’ she said
‘I’d like to remind Arab countries that today you share more common interests with Israel than the terrorist militias.’
In the days after her UN address there were calls on social media for her citizenship to be revoked as a result of her criticisms of Iraq.
And, in a statement, given to Baghdad Today, it appeared Iraqi MP Ali al-Ghanmi was calling for her comments and the consequences for her citizenship to be assessed under the law.
‘The competent authorities must say whether this crime requires the withdrawal of nationality.’
Ms Idan, who won this year’s UN Watch’s Ambassador for Peace Award, has taken her battle over her citizenship to Twitter – appealing to various organisations and heads of state for support.
‘Two weeks ago Iraq denied my statements at the UN that I don’t have freedom to speak about Israel; now they’re taking my citizenship. This is inhumane. I’m speechless,’ she tweeted.
At a UNHRC session Miss Iraq 2017 testified in support of Arab-Israeli peace, condemned the acts of terror committed by Hamas and the human-rights abuses under the Iraqi government
Ms Idan, who won this year’s UN Watch’s Ambassador for Peace Award, has taken her battle over her citizenship to Twitter
Ms Idan expressed her gratitude to Benjamin Netanyahu’s support of her cause
The Israeli Prime Minister’s son Yair Netanyahu tweeted his support for the former Miss Iraq.
‘We love you in Israel! you have a lot of fans in Israel, America and around the world!,’ he wrote.
Ms Idan tweeted back: ‘Thank you, Iraq wants to do to me what they did to Iraqi Jews back in Farhoud: take my citizenship & not allow me to return. I must fight to keep it cause this is a fight not just for my rights but also against antisemitism. Hope both Israel & US step in to fight this decision.’
Ms Idan also appealed to US President Donald Trump for support.
In the tweet, referencing her work as a translator with US troops in Iraq, she wrote: ‘I fought beside US to end tyranny & deliver democracy to Iraq. Freedom of speech is the base of democracy & must be protected.’
Idan continued, ‘I urge the @UN @realDonaldTrump to investigate this decision & put an end to this abuse & protect my rights as an Iraqi American citizen.’
The beauty pageant contestant also appealed to Donald Trump to back her cause
In a letter, he released on Twitter, UN Watch director-general Hillel Neuer called on the UNHRC to look into the threat to Ms Idan’s citizenship.
He said the threats against Ms Idan were in ‘express violation’ of several of the UN resolutions which condemned all acts of intimidation by states against individuals who sought to cooperate with the United Nations.
‘The freedom to engage with the UN is a basic exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights of all and must be respected and protected.’
It’s not the first time the beauty queen has raised controversy. In November 2017 she posed for an Instagram photo with Miss Israel Gandelsman at the Miss Universe beauty pageant in Las Vegas.
Their selfie appeared on Ms Idan’s Instagram page with references to promoting ‘peace and love’ – but it soon sparked a social media backlash.
It also led to death threats that saw Ms Idan’s family to flee Iraq in fear for the US.
At the time Ms Idan responded saying she never meant to insult the Palestinian cause.
‘This picture doesn’t mean I support the Israeli government or its polices towards Arab countries. I apologise to everyone who saw it as an insult to the Palestinian cause – this was not its purpose.’
Ms Idan was critical of the Iraqi government’s lack of support over her freedom of speech after this photo of her with Miss Israel led to death threats
In her recent address at the UN, Ms Idan criticised the Iraqi government for failing to step in and help her and her family at the time.
‘Two years ago, I represented Iraq at Miss Universe. I posted a photo with Miss Israel on social media.
‘I was told to remove it and forced to denounce Israeli policies. I received death threats. Since then I can no longer return to my homeland.
‘Why did the Iraqi government fail to condemn the threats or allow my freedom of speech?’
‘…For advocating peace, I’m called a traitor.’