Row Over Denial of US Visa To Iraqi Nun: Conservatives Seek Congressional Probe

By @diplomatist10 on
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters
IN PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters with South Korea's Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (not pictured) about the 2+2 Ministerial meetings, at the State Department in Washington October 24, 2014. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

An episode involving the denial of U.S visa to an Iraqi nun for visiting Washington to narrate persecution of Christians in Iraq by Islamic State has kicked up a row. Leading Conservative law makers and intellectuals have slammed the State department for the incident and sought a Congress-led probe into it.

Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker strongly came out in support of the nun and called for a congressional investigation. The Republican veteran said the "Congress has to investigate and find out who made this decision and what is the State Department going to do about it," He alleged that “this is an administration which never seems to find a good enough excuse to help Christians, but always finds an excuse to apologize for terrorists . . . I hope that as it gets attention that Secretary of State John Kerry will reverse it. If he does not, Congress has to investigate, and the person who made this decision ought to be fired."

Height of Insensitivity

Gingrich said he was "amazed" and "outraged" at the insensitivity with which the visa application was rejected. The non-immigrant visa of Sister Diana Momeka was turned by the U.S consulate in Erbil.

According to Gingrich, one in every four countries right now has some kind of hostility under way.  He said churches are being burned, synagogues are getting destroyed and people are being killed. Still, it is amazing to see the level of insensitivity by the officials as suggested by this rejection. Frank Wolf of the 21st Century Wilberforce Institute and a former congressman, also defended the nun and said the sister was "a godly woman." He also said something is out of control either in the White House or in the State Department.

Official Reason

The nun's plight was revealed to the world by Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom.  Shea, in a National Review op-ed said Sister Diana Momeka is “an internationally respected and leading representative of the Nineveh Christians who have been killed and deported by ISIS.”

Sister Diana was the only Christian and the only member blocked from the trip. Accoring to Shea, the nun told her in a phone conversation that the consular officer denied her visa because on the ground that is an ‘IDP’ or Internally Displaced Person. Shea said it is hurting that the State Department has called the nun a deceiver.

Johnnie Moore, author of "Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard," said Sister Diana's story illustrates a "systemic problem." He said the nun was not displaced once, but twice.  She ran out of two cities--one was Mosul, the city that had thousands and thousands of Christians for many, centuries, and now there are zero  Christians left.

Shea alleged that the State Department officials made the determination under the assumption that the Catholic nun could be falsely asserting that she intends to visit Washington when she “could be intending to stay." Pre-empting illegal immigration the State department wanted to foreclose the option of a potential demand for political asylum, as the U.S. seems determined to deny ISIS’s Christian victims that status, Shea alleged.

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