US denies visa to nun set to testify about ISIS atrocities

Sister Diana Momeka (Image from

Sister Diana Momeka (Image from

Conservative commentators are up in arms over the State Department’s decision to deny a visa to a Catholic nun who was part of an Iraqi delegation supposed to testify before Congress about Islamic State (ISIS) atrocities.

The US consulate in Erbil rejected the visitor visa application
of Sister Diana Momeka earlier this week, saying she was “not
able to demonstrate that [her] intended activities in the United
States would be consistent with the classification of the

However, visas were given to all the other members of the
delegation scheduled to speak in Washington about the Islamic
State’s persecution of minorities of the region, including Shia
Muslims and Yazidis. Meetings have been arranged for the group
before the House and Senate foreign relations committees, with
State Department and USAID officials, and with various NGOs.

Sister Diana is a member of the Dominican Sisterhood of Saint
Catherine of Siena, an order that dates its presence in Iraq back
to the 13th century and has been an outspoken advocate for the
Christians who have been killed and deported by the group calling
itself the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL).

In an op-ed in National Review Online, Nina
Shea of the conservative Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious
Freedom questioned the State Department’s motives for denying
Sister Diana a visa. According to Shea, the consular officials
denied the application because Sister Diana was an internally
displaced person (IDP), and therefore could try seeking asylum in
the US.

READ MORE: ISIS claim laying waste to 4th century
Iraqi Christian monastery

“Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the
temporary nature of her visit,”
wrote Shea, from a letter to
her prioress attesting “that the nun has been gainfully
employed since last February with the Babel College of Philosophy
and Theology in Erbil.”
There are also letters from her
sponsors, the Institute for Global Engagement and former
Congressman Frank Wolf’s (R-Va.) 21st Century Wilberforce

“For good measure, she also had a letter of endorsement for
her visit from Representative Anna Eshoo”
(D-Calif.), who
co-chairs the congressional Caucus on Religious Minorities in the
Middle East, Shea added.

Yet the consular officials “either thought that they were all
in on a scheme by the nun or that Sister Diana was plotting to
deceive her well-placed friends and supporters, as well as the US
Shea wrote.

READ MORE: ‘We had to get out’: RT talks to Iraqi
refugees from ISIS-occupied regions

“We were shocked and disappointed when we found out,”
Elyse Anderson of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative told
the Washington Times.

Other conservative outlets, such as Breitbart and WND, have picked up on the plight of Sister
Diana, pointing out she was the only Christian in the delegation
and the only member to be denied a visa. They have questioned the
official reasoning of the US consular officials, noting that she
was not the only internally displaced person in the delegation
and that people who have been displaced by the Islamic State’s
terror – such as Yazidis – have been allowed to visit the US

“It is beyond ironic,” said Anderson, “that Sister
Diana, who we had hoped would come to Washington to speak about
the worsening plight of Iraq’s displaced Christians and other
beleaguered religious minorities, was apparently prevented from
doing so precisely because she is herself a displaced

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