Sarah, 27, aims to be Iraq’s jewel with a crown

Sarah Idan, 27, a singer, songwriter and musician from Baghdad, will represent her country at the Miss Universe pageant in the US this month. (Via social media)
Updated 08 November 2017
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Sarah, 27, aims to be Iraq’s jewel with a crown

BAGHDAD: Sarah Idan carries the hopes and dreams of Iraq on her shoulders — and very pretty shoulders they are too.
Sarah, 27, a singer, songwriter and musician from Baghdad, will represent her country at the Miss Universe pageant in the US this month.
“It’s an incredible honor,” she said on social media. “Very grateful and excited.”
Sarah qualified for the contest last week when she was crowned Miss Universe Iraq 2017 at a ceremony in Baghdad — but, Iraq being Iraq, the process was not without incident. Judges found out that the initial winner, Vian Sulaimani, had been married and divorced, which is against the rules.
It is more than 40 years since Iraq had a contestant at the pageant. Wijdan Sulyman took part in Puerto Rico in 1972.
Sarah was born and raised in Baghdad. After the invasion in 2003, she worked with the American-led coalition forces in the city, which gave her the opportunity to travel to the US. Last year she won the Miss Iraq USA title in Michigan.
Many Iraqis welcomed her participation in the pageant. “We need to breathe some air away from the wars and killings,” Mona Jaleel, a government employee, told Arab News. “We are not familiar with these contests and I do not think that our nominee will reach the final stages, but I am so excited to see our girl there.”
Hadiya Enad, a teacher, said: “It’s good to revive such events in Iraq. I am proud to finally see Iraqis participating in this contest. We have such beautiful girls, so they have to participate in these events. I love watching them,” Enad said.
Others, however, were less impressed. “The contest does not mean anything,” Sharief Soud said.
And Saman Mohammed, 35, a cameraman, told Arab News: “I personally do not like such events and I would not cover it. I have spent all my life living under war and fighting, who cares about these events?”
The pageant takes place in Las Vegas on Nov. 26.


Bible Museum admits some of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake

Updated 23 October 2018
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Bible Museum admits some of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake

  • Technical analysis by a team of German scholars has revealed that at least five of the museum’s 16 scroll fragments are apparent forgeries
  • The announcement has serious implications not only for the Bible Museum but for other evangelical Christian individuals and institutions

WASHINGTON: When Washington’s $500 million Museum of the Bible held its grand opening in November 2017, attended by Vice President Mike Pence, there were questions even then about the authenticity of its centerpiece collection of Dead Sea Scrolls.
Now the museum has been forced to admit a painful truth: Technical analysis by a team of German scholars has revealed that at least five of the museum’s 16 scroll fragments are apparent forgeries.
The announcement has serious implications not only for the Bible Museum but for other evangelical Christian individuals and institutions who paid top dollar for what now seems to be a massive case of archaeological fraud.
Jeffrey Kloha, chief curator for the Museum of the Bible, said in a statement that the revelation is “an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of verifying the authenticity of rare biblical artifacts, the elaborate testing process undertaken and our commitment to transparency.”
The scrolls are a collection of ancient Jewish religious texts first discovered in the mid-1940s in caves on the western shore of the Dead Sea in what is now Israel. The massive cache of Hebrew documents is believed to date back to the days of Jesus. With more than 9,000 documents and 50,000 fragments, the entire collection took decades to fully excavate.
Most of the scrolls and fragments are tightly controlled by the Israeli Antiquities Authority. But around 2002, a wave of new fragments began mysteriously appearing on the market, despite skepticism from Biblical scholars.
These fragments, they warned, were specifically designed to target American evangelical Christians, who prize the scrolls. That appears to be exactly what happened; a Baptist seminary in Texas and an evangelical college in California reportedly paid millions to purchase alleged pieces of the scrolls.
Also, eagerly buying up fragments was the Green family — evangelical Oklahoma billionaires who run the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores and who famously sued the Obama administration on religious grounds, saying they didn’t want to pay to provide their employees access to the morning-after pill or intrauterine devices.
The Greens are the primary backers of the Museum of the Bible and went on an archaeological acquisition spree in the years leading up to the museum’s opening. In addition to the alleged Dead Sea Scrolls fragments, the Greens ran afoul of the Justice Department, which said they had acquired thousands of smuggled artifacts looted from Iraq and elsewhere. The family agreed last year to return those artifacts and pay a $3 million fine.