From Miss Iraq to global peace activist – meet Sarah Idan

Governments may be enemies, but people are not.” This was the statement made by former Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan who turned global peace activist. She joined us and some of our affiliated organisations ranging from youth movements, student representative bodies, foreign nationals and interfaith organisations, at the Union of Jewish Women’s Cape Town office on Monday night.

Her message of peace and dialogue made all the more pertinent with the recent attacks in Be’er Sheva yesterday, where four civilians were killed. Peace cannot be achieved through violence and we strongly condemn this attack and all senseless killings of civilians.

Sarah Idan represented Iraq at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant, filled with pride at being able to represent her country on the world stage. However, what she would experience at the event would change her forever. She would never go back home to Iraq again. During the pageant, Sarah posed for a photograph with fellow participant Miss Israel, Adar Gandelsman, and shared it on her Instagram. Immediately following this simple gesture of camaraderie and friendship, she and her family became the target of hate-filled abuse and even death threats and her family were forced to flee Iraq.

From this experience, Sarah knew this would only be the beginning of her commitment to connecting Muslims and Jews, Arabs and Israelis, beyond borders, differences in faith, and age-old conflicts, united in amity and common ground. At a time when violent conflict and all the destruction and human suffering that it brings is again rearing its ugly head, her message of peace, tolerance and respect has never been more relevant.

Sarah has founded the NGO Humanity Forward to put into practice what she believes in.

While in South Africa Sarah will be speaking at university campuses, talking on women empowerment & resilience at a women’s Technology and Leadership Institute, and will be the guest speaker at a Women of Courage breakfast. This week is IAW, an annual global event held on university campuses where debate is encouraged between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups to encourage a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You can learn more about IAW and SAUJS initiatives here.

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