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Current Page: World | Monday, May 11, 2015
US Relents After Pressure, Grants Iraqi Nun Persecuted by ISIS Travel Visa

US Relents After Pressure, Grants Iraqi Nun Persecuted by ISIS Travel Visa

Assyrians hold banners as they march in solidarity with the Assyrians abducted by Islamic State fighters in Syria earlier this week, in Beirut, Labanon, February 28, 2015. Militants in northeast Syria are now estimated to have abducted at least 220 Assyrian Christians this week, a group monitoring the war reported. | (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Azakir)

An Iraqi nun who has been an outspoken critic of the Islamic State will finally receive a visa to travel to the United States to speak on Christian persecution in the Middle East.

In a reversal following much outrage, the US State Department has agreed to give Sister Diana Momeka, member of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena, a visa for a trip to Washington, D.C.

Sister Diana's trip was sponsored in part by the groups the Institute for Global Engagement and the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.

On its Facebook page, IGE reported Monday morning that the Iraqi delegation scheduled to arrive in the nation's capital was going to include Sister Diana.

"A delegation from Iraq is on its way to Washington at this very moment, to include Sister Diana, one of IGE's Cradle Fund partners," posted IGE.

"Tomorrow, the IRF Roundtable which IGE co-founded and c-chairs is privileged to have the opportunity to hold a Special Roundtable and Interactive Discussion with members of this delegation on issues related to Iraq's religious and ethnic communities."

Last month, the State Department denied a visa to Sister Diana, a Christian aid worker who had seen firsthand the violent persecution of ISIS.

The consulate in Erbil rejected her visa, reportedly because of concerns that her planned activities in the U.S. do not correspond with her visa classification.

According to Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, the rejection was driven by a concern that the State Department had that Sister Diana would seek "political asylum."

"Sister Diana wanted to visit for one week in mid-May. She has meetings set up with the Senate and House foreign-relations committees, the State Department, USAID, and various NGOs," wrote Shea.

"In support of her application, Sister Diana had multiple documents vouching for her and the temporary nature of her visit."

Outrage over the rejected visa quickly spread, with many including Newsmax, Breitbart, and radio personality Glenn Beck noting that Sister Diana was the only Christian in the delegation expected to testify before Congress.

"Remember, we're just letting people come in across the border … [She wants to come] for a reason. She has a reason to come into the country; we don't let [her] in," said Beck.

Sister Diana's visit comes as growing concerns exist that ISIS, once considered restricted to Syria and Northern Iraq, might pose a threat inside the U.S.

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