An Iranian beauty queen who has been stuck in a Manila airport for nearly two weeks says she can’t return home and is seeking asylum in the Philippines, according to Philippine authorities.
Bahareh Zare Bahari, 31, was detained the morning of Oct. 17 by the country’s Bureau of Immigration after arriving at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila from Dubai, the department said in a press release last week.
The international police agency Interpol issued a red notice to arrest her, according to the statement from the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration. Although the statement didn’t specify which country issued the request, it says that Bahari is a fugitive wanted in an assault and battery case.
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Bahari, a recent contestant at the Miss International beauty pageant in Manila, claims that Tehran issued the red notice on false charges in an attempt to silence her anti-government rhetoric, CNN reported.
“I am against our government. The Iran government is a terrorist. I always try to [give a] voice [to] my people on media,” she told the Philippine Star.
Earlier this year, the beauty queen appeared onstage in a recent competition with the flag of the former Iranian monarchy and a photo of exiled opposition leader Reza Pahlavi, according to CNN.
She has told media outlets that she believes this, along with her political activism and outspoken support of women’s rights, is why she was targeted by the Iranian government.
Bahari told the Telegraph that the assault case against her was a “big lie” and that she believes she would be killed if she were to be deported to Iran.
According to the paper, she has been studying dental medicine in the Philippines since 2014.
In a video posted on her Facebook page, Bahari said she’s beginning to question her safety in the Philippines as she enters her 13th day at the airport.
“I need a safe place to live without constantly fearing for my life,” she wrote in the post. “I think Philippine is not safe place to me anymore.”
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT
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