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Philippines Grants Asylum to Iranian Beauty Queen

Bahar Zare Bahari, Iranian model and regime critic. File photo

The Philippine government has granted asylum to an Iranian former beauty queen and critic of the Iranian regime after she was stranded for four weeks in an airport, the Guardian reported on Friday, October 8.

Police detained Bahareh Zare' Bahari, on October 17, in Manila airport when she returned from Dubai. The former beauty queen was the subject of an Interpol "red notice" issued by the Islamic Republic, the local police said.

Ms. Zare' Bahari, who had been studying dentistry in the Philippines since 2014, said that she was scared to return to Iran, and going back there meant long term prison and even the death penalty for her.

"They will kill me," Zare' Bahari told Britain's Telegraph newspaper last month, referring to the Islamic Republic authorities.

Her clash with the Islamic Republic started when she participated in the 2018 Miss Intercontinental beauty contest in Manila and displayed a poster of Prince Reza Pahlavi, the Iranian former crown prince and critic of the current political establishment in Iran.

Furthermore, she was renowned for speaking in favor of Iranian women's rights on social media.

The Philippine justice department recognized Bahari as a refugee on November 6 but released the document only on Friday.

The justice department ordered her to report to the Bureau of Immigration so she could be issued a visa and registration certificate. "If the refugee has no passport or valid passport, visa stamping is not required," the document said.

Bahari's Facebook page features a photo posted in August showing her wearing a dress resembling the Iranian flag used during monarchy until 1979. In the photo, she is seen holding a spear with what appeared to be a photo of Reza Pahlavi, the deposed king's son, Fox News reported.

Ahead of the asylum decision, rights group Amnesty International had urged the Philippines authorities not to deport Zare' Bahari, presenting her as "a vocal critic of the Iranian authorities and a public opponent of compulsory hijab."

"My wish is that my country will achieve freedom and equality," Zare' Bahari said in her candidate profile at the Miss Intercontinental pageant website.