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Former Miss Iraq announces run for US Congress

Sarah Idan says she is running as a secular Muslim 'Zionist' woman who believes in freedom
Miss Iraq 2017 Sarah Idan competes during Miss Universe Pageant at The Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on 26 November 2017 (AFP)

A former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, has officially announced her run as a Democrat for US Congress in California’s 30th District in November 2024. 

Idan currently lives in Los Angeles and is the founder of Humanity Forward, a nonprofit bipartisan organisation “committed to building bridges among Muslims and Jews in order to surpass borders and promote reconciliation, tolerance, mutual understanding, and peace”. 

The seat is currently held by Adam Schiff, who will be leaving to run for the Senate. Schiff, who was the House Intelligence Committee chair in 2021, had welcomed the US administration's pledge to release a declassified report on who killed Jamal Khashoggi, calling for the document to be made public "without delay".

Idan told US Jewish news outlet The Algemeiner that if she wins, she will be the first Iraqi female immigrant “and secular Muslim Zionist in history” to be elected to Congress.

In 2017, Idan was a Miss Universe contestant and posted a photo of herself with Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, which at the time led to her receiving death threats. 

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She told The Algemeiner she was forced to leave her home country and her Iraqi citizenship was revoked. 

In 2020, she caused controversy online after posting a photo with the head of Israeli Mossad at the White House during the US-brokered normalisation ceremony between Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain. 

She told the news outlet that one of the reasons why she is running for Congress is because the Democratic Party has been “hijacked” by members of “The Squad”, which include Muslim Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. 

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Gender equality, refugee rights, religious tolerance, and the “plight of persecuted minorities in the Middle East” are some issues that are important to Idan. She said she wants to bring attention and resources to those issues, both at home and abroad. 

“As an activist who is involved and comes from the Middle East, I would represent a more realistic picture of what’s going on rather than people who came here when they were refugees at a very young age and never dealt with what I went through and am still going through until today, me and my family,” she told The Algemeiner.

“We need secular Muslims [in Congress] and Muslims who believe in freedom and want to be a non-radical voice.”

MEE reached out to Idan for comment, but she did not respond by the time of publication. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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