Good news. The Obama State Department on Friday reversed its decision to bar an Iraqi Catholic nun from coming to the United states.
Last week, religious freedom advocates loudly objected to the State Department’s decision to bar Sister Diana Momeka from entering the United States as part of delegation of Iraqi minority groups, and several conservative and religious media outlets banged pots and pans to draw attention to the injustice.
Every member of the delegation had been granted visas to visit Washington for official meetings — except Sister Diana, a representative of the Nineveh Christians, who have been forced to flee Iraq or be slaughtered by ISIS. Sister Diana had planned to tell Americans about ISIS’ violent persecution of Christians during a week-long visit in mid-May — before she was rejected by the State Department. Now her trip is back on and her supporters are rejoicing.
Fox News reported:
Momeka, who has been likened to Mother Teresa for her work with the poor and persecuted, was turned down, she said, because she was “internally displaced” in Iraq, and deemed a risk to stay in the U.S., where she once lived and studied for six years. Ironically, her displacement came at the hands of ISIS, and is the very subject she hopes to discuss during her trip.
“That really hurt,” Sister Diana told Nina Shea, director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, in a phone interview after the visa was denied.
“We’re very grateful to the Department of State and happy for Sister Diana.”
– Lou Ann Sabatier, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative
Now that her visit is back on, Sister Diana plans to come to Washington later this month to meet with the Senate and House foreign-relations committees, the State Department, USAID and various NGOs to describe the atrocities in her area.
Members of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative—one of the groups sponsoring Sister Diana’s Washington trip — told Fox News they were “thrilled” at the news of the State Department’s reversal and look forward to her visit, Lou Ann Sabatier, Communications Director, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative told Fox News.“We’re very grateful to the Department of State and happy for Sister Diana,” Sabatier said.
According to Fox News, the State Department had no comment on Sister Diana’s specific case.
“All visa applications are adjudicated on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act and other applicable laws,” a State Department spokesman told Fox News.
It looked to one and all like Sister Diana was being unfairly singled out, because there was nothing about her case that distinguished it from cases others who were being allowed in. Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit.
A letter from her prioress, Sister Maria Hana, attested that the nun has been gainfully employed since last February with Babel College for Philosophy and Theology in Erbil, and is contracted to teach there in the 2015–16 academic year. Erbil, some 60 miles east of Mosul, has remained safe from ISIS.
She submitted an invitation from her sponsors, the Institute for Global Engagement and 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, headed by former Republican Congressman Frank Wolf. She also had an endorsement letter from Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.
There really was no valid excuse for the Obama administration to deny Sister Diana a visa, and it was only due to the public outcry that they buckled and allowed the Iraqi “Mother Teresa” to step foot in America..