The U.S. State Department’s recent rejection of an Iraqi nun’s request for a visa has ignited a firestorm, with conservatives calling for an official congressional probe into the decision.
Nina Shea, director of Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, broke the news last Thursday that a persecuted Iraqi Catholic nun named Sister Diana Momeka, “an internationally respected and leading representative of the Nineveh Christians who have been killed and deported by ISIS,” was prevented by the US State Department from coming to Washington to testify before Congress concerning the sufferings of Christians under Islamic State militants.
An Iraqi delegation of minority groups—comprising representatives of the Yazidi and Turkmen Shia religious communities as well as a Christian nun—requested visas to come for official meetings in Washington. Every one of the delegation received a visa except the lone Christian.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared that “Congress has to investigate and find out who made this decision and what is the State Department going to do about it.”
“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,” Gingrich said. “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.”
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck said he couldn’t believe that Sister Momeka was denied a visa to enter the United States.
“Remember, we’re just letting people come in across the border,” Beck said on his television program. “She has a reason to come into the country; we don’t let [her] in.”
The State Department’s decision coincided with the release of the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which underscored the Administration’s softness in dealing with the persecution of Christians.
Remarkably, the State Department’s most recent list of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) “where particularly severe violations of religious freedom are perpetrated or tolerated” does not include some of the countries of greatest persecution of Christians in the world today, namely: Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Nigeria.