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Former Miss Iraq could be 'stripped of her citizenship' over support for Israel

Sarah Idan and Adar Gandelsman's Instagram selfie provoked a negative backlash from within Iraq [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 10 July, 2019

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Former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan could be stripped of her citizenship and banned from the country for her pro-Israel comments, Iraq's parliament has said.
Iraq's parliament intends to strip a former beauty queen of her citizenship and ban her from re-entering the country over her pro-Israel comments.

"2 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..." former Miss Iraq Sarah Idan tweeted on Wednesday.

Idan faced a strong backlash in her home country of Iraq after she posted a picture with Miss Israel at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant. The post was captioned: "Peace and Love from Miss Iraq and Miss Israel #missuniverse". 

Ali al-Ghanami, a member of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi Parliament, told Baghdad Today that "what has been done by Sarah Idan, Miss Iraq, will be held accountable by the law."

"If the punishment for Sarah Idan's comments and actions comes to removing her Iraqi nationality, then we support that... But it must be done in accordance with the law, and not according to whim," he added. 

Idan, who worked as a linguist and interpreter for the US military in Baghdad at the age of 18, tweeted to US President Donald Trump asking him to "investigate the decison".

Idan's family fled Iraq following death threats after she posted a picture of herself with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsma, at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant.

Speaking at a United Nations summit in Geneva as an Ambassador for Peace on June 26, the 29-year-old said: "Why did the Iraqi government fail to condemn the threats, or allow my freedom of speech? The issue between Arabs and Israelis goes beyond policy disagreements. It's deeply rooted in the belief systems taught in Muslim countries, which are antisemitic."

According to the Times of Israel, Idan was invited to speak at the United Nations by UN Watch - described by the Economist as a "pro-Israeli monitor".

Idan has been barred from entering Iraq since 2017. Currently living in the United States, Idan visited Jerusalem last year. 

Together with Gandelsman, she toured Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market where she met Israeli Jews of Arab origin.  

On her visit, Idan said both Israel and Palestine "have a right to co-exist in this beautiful land" and called for a resolution to the conflict.

Iraq and Israel currently hold no diplomatic relations.

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