Former Miss Iraq: 'Ilhan Omar does not represent me as a Muslim'

"Ilhan Omar does not represent me as a Muslim – does not represent millions of Muslims in the Middle East," Idan said on 'The Sarah Carter Show.'

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August 12, 2019 09:50
4 minute read.
Former Miss Iraq: 'Ilhan Omar does not represent me as a Muslim'

Contestants Miss Iraq, Sarah Eedan (R) and Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman (L) pose together for a selfie, during preparations for the Miss Universe 2017 beauty pageant in Las Vegas, United States November 13, 2017. (photo credit: SARAH IDAN/SOCIAL MEDIA/VIA REUTERS)

Former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, entered into a Twitter battle with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) after proclaiming that the politician does not represent her as a Muslim.

The spat started after Idan appeared on "The Sara Carter Show," and spoke out against Omar, saying her ideas are "anti-American" and "antisemitic."

"Ilhan Omar does not represent me as a Muslim – does not represent millions of Muslims in the Middle East," Idan said on the show.

After discovering a posting of the show, Omar struck back on Twitter, claiming that since Idan is not a resident of Minnesota she does not represent her anyway.


"Seriously @IlhanMN this is your intellectual come back?" Idan retorted on Twitter. "I said as a MUSLIM! I don't stand for your anti-American, antisemitic, Muslim Brotherhood agenda, using this democracy to further YOUR & YOUR FRIENDS Islamic socialism goals of dividing & weakening our country."

"When you @IlhanMN come to my State, My City, My zip code right here in CA & accept an award from CAIR, a Muslim brotherhood affiliated organization IT IS my business!" Idan continued. "First was the Middle East, then Europe & now the USA. I fled from the same ideology you’re trying to export here."

Two years ago, Idan's family left Iraq after she received backlash over modeling in a bikini and posting photos taken with Miss Israel Adar Gandelsman on social media.

The Iraqi government threatened to cancel her citizenship over the "selfie." In addition, Idan and her family received a number of death threats, some allegedly from Hamas, as well as from the Iraqi and conservative Muslim communities abroad.

“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 police," she said in a speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in June. "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?"

Idan now lives in the United States and the rest of her family has fled the country.

Gandelsman told Channel 13 news that she has been in touch with Idan since the pageant and that the two women have a special relationship.

“She did it to so that people can understand that it’s possible to live together,” Gandelsman said. “In order for people to see that we can connect; in the end we are both human beings.”

Idan has not removed the photo from her Instagram account and has defended the photo in a post written in Arabic.

“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. She said the photo does not signal support for the Israeli government and apologized if the photo was harmful to the Palestinian cause.

She recently spoke at the UNHRC in support of Israel in June, a move that sparked the Iraqi parliament to pledge to cancel her nationality and citizenship.

Idan tweeted: "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 then posted an article she saw in the Iraqi media about the issue, explaining that it spoke of “support to Abolish the Nationality of Miss Iraq & Prevent her Entry & return into Iraq because of its Statements Concerning Israel.”

UN Watch director-general Hillel Neuer told The Jerusalem Post that it was illegal to take one's citizenship over a UN speech and that he was writing to UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres on her behalf.

During the speech, Idan talked about Arab countries dismissing Israel as a potential ally due to antisemitic ties, and failing to condemn Hamas for inciting terror.

"The issue between Arabs and Israelis goes beyond policy and disagreements," she said. "It’s deeply rooted in the belief systems taught in Muslim countries which are antisemitic. Sadly, hatred and intolerance are reinforced by biased media."

Idan has condemned Arab media for failing to report on Hamas's terrorist aspirations, such as firing "700 rockets at Israel civilians in one weekend," using Palestinians in Gaza as human shields, and blaming Israel for those killed during the ongoing protests and conflicts instead of condemning Hamas.

"For advocating peace, I’m called a traitor," Idan concluded. "Why hasn’t a single Arab media outlet called to ask my views? Instead, they publish false translations of my statements. I would like to remind Arab countries that today, you share more common interests with Israel than the terrorist militias. Negotiating peace for both states isn’t betraying the Arab cause but a vital step to end conflict and suffering for all.”


Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.


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