Excerpt of article originally published under the title "'Stolen Youth' Is Not Only about Gülen or ISIL."
In his excellent piece on Aug. 12, "Stolen Youth," prominent Hürriyet columnist Taha Akyol wrote:
I am talking about those young people who are almost spellbound by certain cults, communities or organizations into becoming robots. In these incidents, there is an 'enthraller' and an 'enthralled.' ... [This] happens for many with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of today.
When I come across these psychological enchantment states, I remember Adolph Hitler's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, who wrote in his journal when he saw Hitler for the first time in 1924: 'I was reborn at that moment.' ...
My aim is to explain what kind of 'black magic' it is to be attached and enchanted to someone, thinking it is the 'only way,' and what kind of disasters it can lead to. I want to explain that this is a totalitarian enchantment. By creating the sentiment of dedication, it destroys the individual's will and makes people robots.
I think it is important to notice that this psychology is not a religious ecstasy or Islamic service awareness; rather, it is a sick mentality. It is also seen in the totalitarian secular movements of the Nazis and the Bolsheviks. ... Of course, every incident is different, but what I am drawing attention to is the hypnosis power of those people who are attributed supernatural or superhuman skills. ...
Barely a week after Mr. Akyol's "Stolen Youth" article, a child jihadist killed more than 50 people at a wedding ceremony in a southern Turkish city. Another robot, driven by faith, murdering and perishing.
No doubt, Mr. Akyol's analysis explains some of the main motives, if not all, behind the massive German support for Hitler, the Russian love affair with Bolshevism, young or even child recruits of the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL), and Gülen's "robots." But the explanation looks incomplete.
ISIS is at the forefront because it has killed more than 300 Turks in several attacks over the past year or so. Gülen is also at the forefront because his loyalists attempted to take power by means of a coup overthrowing the elected political authority.
Millions of young Erdoğan loyalists are ready to kill or die for him.
Sadly, there are also hundreds of less violent or violent jihadist groups operating in this part of the world. Worse, there are more potentially violent groups, all of which are fighting for a holy cause, often religiously-related. Some of those groups are even "legitimate" for millions of peaceful Islamists. Then there are non-violent but potentially violent Islamists, like the millions of Turks who deny that ISIS is a terror group.
Finally, there are ... millions of young Turks who are not only Erdoğan loyalists but who do not hide that they are ready to "kill or die" for him, proudly exhibiting what Mr. Akyol described in his article: "the hypnotic power of those people who are attributed supernatural or superhuman skills." As Mr. Akyol described it, this is "totalitarian enchantment," and "by creating the sentiment of dedication it destroys the individual's will and makes people robots."
The "robots" of ISIS, the Gülenists, and Kurdish militants are not the only security threat to the Crescent and Star.
Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based columnist for the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.