An Iraqi nun initially denied a visa to testify before Congress — before the White House caved in to a wave of outrage — told lawmakers Wednesday that Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists are committing "cultural and human genocide" by persecuting Iraqi Christians.
Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena, speaking before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said ISIS' plan is to "evacuate the land of Christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed."
"This is cultural and human genocide," she declared. "The only Christians that remain in the Plain of Nineveh are those who are held as hostages."
Her remarks were posted by the Christian News Wire and broadcast by C-Span.
In wrenching detail, the nun recounted the surge of ISIS militants into Iraq, recalling that last June 10, ISIS, starting with the city of Mosul, "overran one city and town after another, giving the Christians of the region three choices: convert to Islam, pay a tribute . . . to ISIS, or leave their cities . . . with nothing more than the clothes on their back."
"As this horror spread throughout the Nineveh Plain, by Aug. 6, 2014, Nineveh was emptied of Christians, and sadly, for the first time since the seventh century A.D., no church bells rang for Mass in the Plain of Nineveh," she said, adding that since then, more more than 120,000 people found themselves "displaced and homeless" in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Sister Diana pleaded with lawmakers that "we, as Christians, do not want or deserve to leave or be forced out of our country any more than you would want to leave or be forced out of yours."
"But the current persecution that our community is facing is the most brutal in our history," she said.
The nun's powerful remarks came just weeks after she was denied entry to the United States – a refusal reported by Newsmax.com and Newsmax TV that so outraged listeners and readers that the White House relented.
Her visit was sponsored by two Washington-area organizations, the Institute for Global Engagement and 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, the Christian News Wire reports.
"I am but one, small person – a victim myself of ISIS and all of its brutality," she testified. "Coming here has been difficult for me – as a religious sister I am not comfortable with the media and so much attention. But I am here, and I am here to ask you, to implore you for the sake of our common humanity, to help us.
"Stand with us as we, as Christians, have stood with all the people of the world and help us. We want nothing more than to go back to our lives; we want nothing more than to go home."
According to Christian News Wire, after her remarks, the nun noted that the situation in her war-torn country was "grave but not without hope."
"I believe that the international community, and especially the good people of the United States, want to see my government fulfill its responsibility to protect, defend, and promote the welfare of all of its citizens," she said.
"I call on all Americans to raise your voices on our behalf so that diplomacy and not genocide, social well-being and not weapons, and the desire for justice, not selfish interests, determines the future for Iraq and all of her children."
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