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The Philippines grants refugee status to Iranian beauty queen



The Philippines has granted refugee status to an Iranian beauty queen, who was stranded for three weeks in a Manila airport for fear she would be killed if she returned to Iran.

The Department of Justice recognised Bahareh Zare Bahari, as a refugee on Wednesday but the notice of recognition was only released to media on Friday.

Bahari was allowed to leave Manila’s airport on Thursday, three weeks after she was stopped from entering the country on Oct. 17 based on a request for her arrest by Interpol.

She applied for asylum to stop her deportation to Iran, where she said she would face imprisonment or even death.

She stayed at a room in Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport while waiting for a decision on her application.

In the notice of recognition, Bahari was told to report to the Bureau of Immigration, so she could be issued a visa and registration certificate.

Bahari, who represented Iran in the Miss Intercontinental pageant held in Manila in January, has been living in the Philippines since 2014 to study dentistry.

The Bureau of Immigration said the 31-year-old beauty queen is wanted for an assault and battery case in Iran, but no other details were available.

Bahari has denied the allegations and said the charges aimed to harass her for her political activism and support for Reza Pahlavi, the Iranian former crown prince and critic of the current leadership.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Ifeyinwa Omowole

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