Category Archives: Iraq

Salem Matti Kourk: Hated and Murdered by ISIS; Loved by God and God's Mom

IT  MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson

I guess there is nothing like the  shocking beheading of a live, innocent, helpless person by gutless, yellow-bellied devil lovers dressed in black pajamas to garner world attention.  The high-profile, barbaric murders of James Foley and Steven Sotloff  have done just that.  Their murders have been emblazoned across the print headlines and media air waves giving Satan’s favorite “crew”, ISIS, the publicity it sought.

James Foley and Steven Sotloff have been introduced to all of us as individuals.  We saw their photos, we learned about their background and their families.  They could have been any one of us.  It became personal for us and we can feel some of the horror and pain these young men must have felt as death approached them.  Yet so many thousands have been murdered in this modern day genocide. We recoil at the numbers but the individuality of all those executed evades us. The Holocaust claiming six million Jews is not the same as hearing the story of Anne Frank or Maximilian Kolbe.

Anne was a youngster we could relate to because, like all of us, she had a name, a family, siblings, a home, ambitions and desires.  Plus, she left behind that most famous diary.  We can identify with her because she was not just a statistic, she was a real person, the same as James Foley and Steven Sotloff.   Maximilian Kolbe was a Catholic priest who offered his own life so that  a Jewish husband and father might live.  His request was granted and the Nazis starved him to death. We can be inspired by the courage and selflessness of such individual acts of brotherly love.  Maximilian Kolbe was canonized a saint  on October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II.  And only last April, Father Frans Van der Lugt, a Catholic priest who had worked in Syria for 50 years, was dragged from his church by agents of ISIS.  They beat him unmercifully and then shot him in the head twice.  Father Van der Lugt was 75 years old.  Three died because of their love of God and two died because they were Americans.

There are so many thousands that have been brutally executed by the ISIS maniacs. So many whose names we shall never know or hear.  So many who were brutally tortured and murdered because of their Christian faith.  So here is one of those with a name, a person we can identify with.  He was not famous or well known.  He was, for the most part, just like the rest of us, unknown.  His name was Salem Matti Kourk.  He was 43 years old and was an Orthodox Christian.

In early August, the Islamist State “Christian haters”, aka ISIS or ISIL,  had taken control of Mosul,  the second largest city in Iraq.  Thirteen miles east of Mosul is the town of Bartella.  ISIS had also secured that town.  We  are well aware of how Mosul, the oldest Christian city in the world, has been overrun and how the city’s ancient churches were destroyed while almost the entire Christian population had either fled or been killed.  Over in Bartella similar atrocities were taking place.  Salem Matti Kourk, a Syrian Christian, had a heart condition.  He could not flee with his family and friends because of his disability.  So they stockpiled food and drink and other supplies for him and he remained behind, hiding out in an abandoned apartment.  The days came and went.

Three weeks later the food and water had run out.  Salem became a bit desperate and eventually decided to leave his hiding place in search of food and water.  Sick and weakened, he did not get far.  ISIS “swine” discovered him near the Church of the Virgin Mary.  They demanded he renounce Christianity and accept Islam.  They screamed at him and kicked him and bludgeoned him with clubs and rifle butts. The kept at it until Salem’s battered body could not withstand anymore.

Salem gave up his spirit and his body rolled over dead.   The Satan “lovers” left him in front of the church and walked away laughing.  Salem Matti Kourk had died a martyr’s death.  He was alone, terrified, and surrounded by thugs that hated him.  Yet, through it all,  he refused to renounce his belief in Jesus.  But maybe, just maybe, he was not alone.

I like to think that being in front of the Church of the Virgin Mary, our dearest Mother stood nearby waiting for him.  I like to think he saw her waiting.  I have a profound feeling Salem walked away from that place with his Mother’s arm around his shoulder.  I can see her leaning over and kissing his battered forehead.  Salem was smiling.  He will smile for all eternity.

"The Scandal that is a "Shameful Silence"


IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

by Larry Peterson                                                         

“Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.”   Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler.  His book, “The Cost of Discipleship”, has become a classic.  Focusing on the “Sermon on the Mount”, the book more or less spelled out what  Bonhoeffer thought was the true way to follow Christ.  In addition to his theological writings and teaching, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a staunch, anti Nazi dissident.  He spoke out vigorously against Hitler’s euthanasia and genocidal persecution of the Jews and, in so doing,  became a hated enemy of the Third Reich. As such, he was arrested in April 1943 and on April 9, 1945 was hanged, accused of  the ambiguous crime of “plotting against the Nazis”.

We move ahead 69 years to 2014.  The following is a statement from His Grace, Bishop Suriel of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Diocese of  Melbourne:
“The world watches in silence as the last Christians are expelled from Mosul, Iraq, in one of the most merciless and barbaric acts of genocide we have seen in the 21st  Century.”

We are absolutely fascinating creatures, we humans are.  Many of our species can be so kind and compassionate, loving and gentle, sweet and understanding.  Many people will save a tiny bird with an injured wing or a cat stuck up in a tree.  They will send money to perfect strangers to help them through a crisis.  They will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and give drink to the thirsty.

Then you flip the coin over and you have many of the very same species who are filled with a self-gratification which culminates in a hate and disdain for others of their own kind.  These include those who will torture and kill their fellow humans  for the most obtuse reasons such as:  religion, skin color, birthplace,  political beliefs or whatever other self-serving reason a murderer may come up with.  Many kill and torture saying they were “only following orders” and had no choice. Others kill because of pride fueled by envy and greed.

So I ask why?  Why are we, all of the same species, so different in our hearts?  How can some of us kill and others forgive them for doing so?   Why do some of us willingly and joyfully give of ourselves for people we may not even know?  Why do some of us  hate others they may not even know?  Why are there those that love their fellow human being unconditionally?  The answer has to be because of the very existence of “good vs evil”.  What is “Good vs Evil”?  I can tell you what it is and I do not care if you disagree. It  is the war waged by Satan and those that follow him against  the God of Love that created him and all of his followers.  If you take a breath and look at the world of today and then glance back at yesterday and the centuries before, what has changed in the hearts of man?

Mosul,  the very cradle of Christianity, can trace the followers of Jesus back to the first century.  As of today it seems that the entire Christian population of Mosul has been purged from this ancient and historic city.  Murder, including beheading of  civilians and the wanton murder of women and children has virtually eradicated the city’s Christians.  And what do we see and hear from the print and broadcast media?  We hear the sound of nothing. We hear the sound of a “Shameful  Silence” that reverberates throughout the very souls of all the people vanquished because they were Christians.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it, “Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.”  He was hanged by the Nazis for his “crimes” over 70 years ago.  What has changed? The press was quiet then as the Nazis purged the world of the “hated Jew”.  Most of the main stream media (print and broadcast) is quiet now as the Islamists purge the world of the “hated Christian”.  The Shameful Silence is a disgrace.  Nothing has changed, nothing at all.