Iranian beauty queen seeks asylum in Philippines

Bahareh Zare Bahari, Iran's representative to the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018. (Credit: Baharaeh's Facebook account)
Updated 21 October 2019

Iranian beauty queen seeks asylum in Philippines

  • Bahareh Zare Bahari has been detained at Manila airport on the basis of an Interpol “red notice” on a charge of assault

MANILA/AMMAN: An Iranian beauty queen is seeking asylum in the Philippines because she fears for her life in Tehran.

Bahareh Zare Bahari, who was Iran's entry at the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018, is in the custody of the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration after she was intercepted at Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport last week.

The bureau said she was barred from entering the Philippines because of an Interpol red notice due to an assault and battery case filed against her by a fellow Iranian. The incident is alleged to have happened in the Philippines. 

Bahareh Zare Bahari, Iran's representative to the Miss Intercontinental pageant in 2018. (Credit: Baharaeh's Facebook account)

Bahari denies any wrongdoing, saying the case against her was fake. She added that Tehran was targeting her for supporting an opposition politician, violating traditional values by taking part in beauty pageants and speaking for women’s rights.

In January she appeared at a pageant carrying a picture of Reza Pahlavi, an Iranian opposition leader and founder of the National Council of Iran.

“I used his photo in a beauty pageant and they are angry with me,” Bahari told Arab News during a phone interview. “If they (Philippines) deport me, they (Iran) will give me at least 25 years in jail, if they do not kill me.”

Bahari said she had travelled to the Philippines after a two-week vacation to Dubai, where she did not encounter any problems with immigration authorities. She was surprised when she was intercepted at the airport in Manila and informed that she was on an Interpol list.

Bahareh Zare Bahari, carrying the photo of Iranian opposition leader Reza Pahlavi during a beauty contest at Mall of Asia Arena in Manila on Jan. 28, 2019. (Supplied photo)

Her lawyer had checked all records in the Philippines and with Interpol but there was no record against her, she added.

The beauty queen denied committing any crimes in Iran, or in the Philippines where she has been studying dentistry since 2014.

Media reports said Bahari was due to be deported to Iran on Monday but a Department of Justice official, Mark Perete, said she remained in the bureau’s custody and “could not be sent back to Iran because she has filed an application for asylum.”

The department would resolve her asylum application “in due time," he added.

At least 16 dead as India airliner crashes on landing

Updated 24 min 23 sec ago

At least 16 dead as India airliner crashes on landing

  • The Air India Express plane from Dubai had 191 passengers and crew on board when it overshot the runway
  • There were 10 infants on board

NEW DELHI: At least 16 people were killed Friday when a passenger jet overshot and skidded off the runway as it landed in southern India, breaking into two pieces, officials said.
Dozens of people were injured, 15 of them seriously, after the Air India Express Boeing 737 originating from Dubai touched down in Kozhikode in heavy rain.
The airline said more than 190 passengers and crew were on board the plane that, according to the aviation ministry, plunged 10 meters (35 feet) down a slope off the end of the raised so-called table-top runway.
Television footage showed the fuselage of the jet ripped apart and surrounded by emergency personnel working in the dark, spraying the wreckage with water although there was no sign of any fire.
Sakeen K., the district medical officer in the nearby city of Malappuram, said that 16 people had died.
“We are still ascertaining the toll,” she told AFP.
Kozhikode official Seeram Sambasiva said that the two pilots were among the dead.
Senior local policeman Abdul Karim told AFP said that another 15 passengers “have critical injuries. It is still a developing situation.”
“We have at least 89 people, many of them with serious injuries, admitted at different Kozhikode hospitals. The ambulances are still coming in,” said Sujith Das, another senior police official.
“We have been told that all those who have survived the crash also have some form of injuries.”
Aviation regulator DGCA said the plane skidded off the end of the runway and “fell down in the valley and broke down in two pieces.”
Four people were still stuck inside the plane. media reports said.
One television channel reported there had been a problem with the jet’s landing gear.
Air India Express said in a statement that there was “no fire reported at the time of landing.”
It said there were 174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and five cabin crew on board the aircraft.
The plane was one of dozens in recent weeks to repatriate some of the thousands of Indians left stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic, many of them in Gulf countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences.
“My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest... Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected,” Modi said.
The last major plane crash in India was in 2010 when an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway and burst into flames.
The crash killed 158 people and left eight survivors.
Kerala has been battered by heavy rains in recent days.
At least 15 people were killed on Friday after a landslide triggered by heavy rains flattened a row of huts elsewhere in the state.
Around 50 other people were feared trapped in the debris. The dead included two children.