Sister Diana Momeka
By Erin Rodewald // May 18, 2015
(This article originally appeared in The Philos Project)
For the first time since the seventh century, there are no church bells ringing across the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq. The region has been emptied of Christians and other religious minorities, forced to flee from the ravages of Islamic State loyalists who overran cities and villages last summer.
This week, Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Mosul, Iraq – herself a victim of ISIS – traveled to the United States to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and bear witness to the atrocities of ISIS. She spoke softly, but her words resonated with power and truth. She has given a voice to the persecuted church.
Momeka described the impossible choices ISIS demanded of the Christians of Mosul, Qaraqosh and the surrounding towns: either convert to Islam, pay a tax (jizya) to ISIS or leave their ancestral homeland with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. By Momeka’s estimates, more than 120,000 Christians escaped to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where they languish even now in small, prefabricated containers and makeshift shelters. “This uprooting – this theft of everything that the Christians owned – displaced them body and soul, stripping away their humanity and dignity,” she said.