Iraqi Christian Leader, Sister Diana Momeka, Denied U. S. Visa Due to Refugee Status

Sister Diana Momeka
Sister Diana Momeka

Religious freedom activists are calling on the State Department to reverse its decision to deny a visa to an influential Iraqi Christian leader, Sister Diana Momeka, who planned to visit the US this spring to advocate for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

Today, Johnnie Moore, co-chair of the 21 Martyrs Campaign, and Samuel Rodriquez, president of the NHCLC/CONEL, the large association of Hispanic Christians, issued the call after their conference in Texas this week. Sister Momeka was to be a member of a delegation of Iraqi religious leaders visiting Washington DC.

“Sister Momeka is a gift to the world and a humanitarian whose work reminded me–when I met her in Iraq–of Mother Teresa,” said Moore, author of Defying ISIS and a key partner with the 21 Martyrs Campaign, created following the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya earlier this year. “It is incomprehensible to me that the State Department would not be inviting Momeka on an official visit to the United States, as opposed to barring her from entry.”

Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute was also critical of the decision. In an online commentary, she wrote, “Earlier this week, we learned that every member of an Iraqi delegation of minority groups, including representatives of the Yazidi and Turkmen Shia religious communities, has been granted visas to come for official meetings in Washington — save one.

“The single delegate whose visitor visa was denied happens to be the group’s only Christian from Iraq. 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.” Shea said the nun told her that her status as a displaced person was the reason she was given for the visa denial.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Timothy C. Morgan