‘Critical voice to awaken Church in West’ denied visa
by LEO HOHMANN
A leading conservative is asking why the Obama State Department is barring a persecuted Iraqi nun from entry into the United States to share her message about the brutal treatment of Christians in her country.
Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, writes in a National Review op-ed that Sister Diana Momeka is “an internationally respected and leading representative of the Nineveh Christians who have been killed and deported by ISIS.”
Yet this nun is being “barred from coming to Washington to testify about this catastrophe?”
Sister Diana was the only Christian in the delegation and the only member blocked from the trip, the Washington Times reported, leading some of her American supporters to question why she was singled out.
Shea, in her op-ed titled “With Malice Toward Nun,” exposed the real reason why Obama denied the visa for Sister Diana.
“Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena was informed on Tuesday by the U.S. consulate in Erbil that her non-immigrant-visa application has been rejected.
“The reason given in the denial letter, a copy of which I have obtained, is:
‘You were not able to demonstrate that your intended activities in the United States would be consistent with the classification of the visa.’”
Shea further explains:
“She told me in a phone conversation that, to her face, consular officer Christopher Patch told her she was denied because she is an ‘IDP’ or Internally Displaced Person. ‘That really hurt,’ she said. Essentially, the State Department was calling her a deceiver.”
Shea states that the State Department officials made the determination that the Catholic nun “could be falsely asserting that she intends to visit Washington when secretly she could be intending to stay. That would constitute illegal immigration, and that, of course, is strictly forbidden. Once here, she could also be at risk for claiming political asylum, and the U.S. seems determined to deny ISIS’s Christian victims that status.”
Shea then outlined Sister Diana’s reasons for her visit and the endorsements she received from two politicians – one Republican and one Democrat — among others:
“In reality, Sister Diana wanted to visit for one week in mid-May. She has meetings set up with the Senate and House foreign-relations committees, the State Department, USAID, and various NGOs. In support of her application, Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit. She submitted a letter from her prioress, Sister Maria Hana. It attested that the nun has been gainfully employed since last February with the Babel College of Philosophy and Theology in Erbil, Kurdistan, and is contracted to teach there in the 2015–16 academic year.”
Sister Diana also submitted an invitation from her sponsors, two respected Washington-area think tanks, the Institute for Global Engagement and former congressman Frank Wolf’s (R., Va.) 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.
None of this was good enough for the Obama State Department.
Yet, as Matthew Balan points out in an article for News Busters, even as the administration denies a visa to a persecuted Christian nun, it has created a “special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons.”
“One wonders if any of the major news media outlets will pick up the story of Sister Diana,” Balan muses. Just over a month ago, on 60 Minutes, CBS’s Lara Logan refreshingly brought new attention to ISIS’s genocidal campaign against the ancient Christian communities in Iraq. But since then, there has been scant coverage of the Islamic extremist group’s persecution of the religious minority. ”
Sister Diana, along with the town’s 50,000 other, mostly Christian, residents, were forced out of their homes by ISIS in the second week of August and fled for their lives to Kurdish-controlled areas.
“Since then, the 30-something religious woman has served as a spokesperson for this community, as well as for the over 100,000 other Christians driven into Kurdistan under the ISIS ‘convert or die’ policy,” Shea writes.
“Mr. Wolf, who met her in Kurdistan a few months ago, explained, ‘We had hoped to facilitate her trip to the States so that she could speak with great candor, as is her custom, to policymakers. Perhaps just as significantly, we viewed her as a critical voice to awaken the church in the West to the suffering of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.’”