Former Miss Iraq who took controversial photo with Miss Israel running for US Congress
Sarah Idan filed with the Federal Electoral Commission to run for California’s 30th district in the US House of Representatives, The Algemeiner, a US-based site covering Jewish and Israeli news reported Wednesday.
Idan gained notoriety during the Miss Universe pageant in 2017, when, as Miss Iraq, she took and posted a selfie with Israeli contestant Adar Gandelsman. Critics said she was actively disregarding Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians with the gesture.
The photo sparked years' worth of controversy. Idan's family fled Iraq following related death threats, and Iraqi parliamentarians reportedly mulled plans to strip Idan of her Iraqi citizenship in 2019.
The 33-year-old is running on a platform of tackling poverty, crime and homelessness - as well as strengthening relations with Israel, including bolstering economic ties between the country and the state of California.
She told The Algemeiner that Israel is "one of the only true allies to actually support the United States and share the same ideology" in the Middle East and North Africa region.
She has vowed to stand up to the "loud voices" within the Democratic Party, in reference to 'The Squad' - a group of progresive congresswomen who have been vocal about issues such as the rights of Palestinians.
"I just feel like sadly the Democratic party has been hijacked by loud voices of far-left socialists and I don’t think they represent many of the people with liberal views," she said.
"They have taken it to an extreme. It’s not only about social issues. Even when it comes to foreign policy and their involvement with basically enemies of the US and trying to always attack our allies in the Middle East [like Israel]."
Idan was born in Iraq in 1990 and aged 18 she volunteered as a translator for the US Army. In 2015, she became an American citizen.
The Los Angeles resident will be running for the position held by Representative Adam Schiff, who is vacating the seat to run for the Senate next year. Despite her support for Israel, she said she hoped to be an "Iraqi voice" in Congress.
California’s 30th Congressional district election will be held on 5 November 2024.