As an Iraqi Christian, Sister Diana Momek has seen her fair share of persecution. She was shocked, however, when the U.S. government refused her visa after she requested to visit the United States. Their reason? They’re afraid she’ll never go back. Since when has the amnesty touting Obama administration cared if immigrants ever go back? Ridiculous.
Glenn: This is going to really kind of hack you off. This week, Sister Diana Momeka was denied a visa by the US Consulate office in Erbil, Iraq. Now, this is the denial letter. Remember, we are just letting people in who come across the border. We don’t care. We just turn them away. Somebody comes in with a reason, there’s a reason to come into the country, we don’t let them in. It’s not even signed.
The reason that they won’t let her in is she wasn’t able to provide enough evidence that she would actually return to her home country, this, despite having a letter from her superior—she’s a nun—that she has been employed since last February at the local college and is contracted to teach there next year. Sister Diana joins me now from Iraq. Hello, Sister. How are you?
Sister Diana: I’m good. How are you? Thank you for having me.
Glenn: I’m good. Sister, I have a hard time sometimes. I so want to be more Christlike. I so want to be more like Mother Teresa and Gandhi, but sometimes I hear stories like this, and man, it’s only the table turning over part of Jesus that comes out in me. So, I’m going to try to be really calm here because this drives me crazy. As we are trying to get the word out about the plight of Christians in Iraq, you asked to come over to meet with whom, exactly?
Sister Diana: Well, the truth is many organizations have come to Erbil when we were forced to leave our homes and so the situation or the displacement actually, and we’ve been working at Dominican Sisters underground since the displacement. So, we’ve met lots of friends that they came through organization, NGOs especially, the 21st Century Wilberforce and the Institute of Global Engagement. When we met with the members of these two organizations actually and they learned a lot about the situation of the IDPs, they suggested if I can come and speak about our work or experience as IDPs and the crisis and challenges that we’ve been facing since August 6 up to this day. After thinking about how to do this, I said yes, and they sent me the invitation letter through the two NGOs that are very considerate and the US that I know, actually. Besides, I have a support letter from a congresswoman and an issue supporting that I’m coming to speak about our situation.
Glenn: Right. I have that you were going to meet with the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committee, the State Department, US Aid, and various NGOs. You have more than one sponsor in Congress, and the State Department is calling you a liar basically.
Sister Diana: Well, I was quite shocked actually because I had lived in the US for almost over than six years, and I had my masters there. I had my doctorate there. I was so surprised that I was denied for one reason because I have all the supported letters. I didn’t expect that answer that it hurt me bad that it’s not enough that I am an IDP, but to said in my face when they told me, when the consular told me your visa has been denied,. I asked for the reason. He said just because you’re an IDP. I questioned myself, IDP is not a human anymore?
Glenn: An IDP, so people know is internally displaced person, so in other words, a person with no home.
Sister Diana: Yes. He said I can’t grant you a visa until you return home, and my answer was right away but we don’t know when are we returning home. Maybe that will be in 10 years or 20 years. Does that mean I’m not allowed to travel anymore? So, that was quite a shock for me. How would I do that, you know? To say it in my face because I am an IDP with all these supported letter that I handed to the consular to look at. So, that’s what shocked me the most. It just makes me question, aren’t we human that we are without home? But we still have dignity, you know? I am so honored to be an Iraqi Christian who has been persecuted, but I just felt I was so persecuted by this answer, to tell you the truth.
Glenn: Sister, I just got out of our screening room before I came on set here. I saw the last ISIS murder, and I’ve got a couple of guys on staff that were dissecting their message for me. What they have come up with, and we’re hopefully going to be releasing this next week, the media has this all wrong. We believe that ISIS is actually terrified of these Christians, and we’ll explain it next week, because of the faith that they have. They have not encountered people that will not pay a tax. They have not encountered people who say I’m not going to kill you, but kill me if you must; I will stand with Christ. They’re freaking out. They don’t know what to do. Would you agree with that?
Sister Diana: I totally agree. I would say Middle East has been suffering from the first century from persecution, and this has been strengthening our faith actually because we have three choices. We have either to convert to Islam or to be killed or to pay taxes, and we refuse to do either one of them because we want to keep our faith, and we are so honored to be Christ’s, you know, power. So, we’ll keep doing that as much as we can, even in the face of death. Lots of people stayed in our hometowns because they did not know that, and they were asked to convert or to get killed. They chose to get killed, but then they released them after they tortured them very badly, and they kept their faith. They did not want to convert to Islam or even to pay taxes or ransom, what you call it or whatever.
Glenn: Sister, you have right now an open microphone and video where you’re looking people in the eye, and this is a very engaged audience. They care. What would you tell them? What can we do? What do they need to know on what’s going on?
Sister Diana: You know, the message that I always carry in my heart and tell the people who really care that you have brothers and sisters in Iraq who have been many times abused. They need to feel that they are loved, they are cared for in so many ways, you know, now especially that we don’t know if we have any future anymore because our children are without proper schooling. Our students are without universities.
So, what I would like to say to people who care about us really that please, please, please, keep us in your prayers as we are facing a very, very difficult time. If any way that you can help us, remember, there are lots of people or many thousands of families that still live in prefabs. Actually now I am talking with you, I’m sitting on my prefab. That’s where I live. It’s a container made from a sandwich panel. That’s how I live. It’s very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, and that’s how people are living.
Some, they are living in warehouses that they don’t have any heat or air condition in the summer. Lots of families, let’s say three or four families, they are living in one house without any privacy. So, any way that you can help, your heart tells you, please do for your brothers and sisters, please.
Glenn: Sister, I’m going to be real honest with you. I don’t think I’m alone that we know what’s going on. We know that God won’t hold us blameless. But we feel ill-equipped. Every day I come into the show, and I do this show, and I feel like—I mean honestly, I’m watching you in a monitor, and I see the camera take the angle from our jib operator where I’m sitting in this nice chair in this air-conditioned studio, and I’m talking to you and I’m thinking to myself—honestly, part of your comments I wasn’t even listening to you because I’m thinking to myself, What the hell are you doing? You should be out helping. But I don’t know how to help, and I think that most of our audience feels the same way. We know what’s going on, Sister. We just don’t know what to do. Pray for us, will you?
Sister Diana: Pray for us that we could return to our homes, because without our homes, we become people without identity. And if we lose our identity, it’s so easy to lose our humanity. The simple example that I can recall again is when I was told in the US consular that I can’t have a visa because I’m an IDP. This is a simple example, and there are many that I can’t mention, you know? So, if you keep praying and tell the world to find some ways to help us to return to our towns, to our churches, to our schools, to our universities, to our, lives this is the most important thing.
Glenn: Sister, I want you to know that there are millions of people that are praying for you. My family is not alone in praying for the people of Iraq and Syria and the Middle East of all religions that they may stop seeing the evil that they’re forced to see and live with every day. If you would just pray for us, we’ll continue to pray for you. Know that you are loved, and we will talk again, Sister. God bless you.
Sister Diana: Thank you. Thank you.