Briefly defined as the worship of Satan as if he were God, Satanism is the name given to a reaction that basically started in the 1880s in such countries as France, England, Germany, and especially in the USA, against Christianity and religious understanding and the domination Christian scholars exercised from the Middle Ages on. The movement began to be systematized in the 1950's by the American-born Anton Szandor LaVey. Today, Satanism represents a rebellion against all religions “ mainly Christianity “ and the sacred values that they put forward. Thus Satanism, taking on the nature of Satan's most important characteristic, i.e. opposition and rebellion, is opposed to religion and everything religious, and is for Satan and everything that he represents.
Derived mainly from the witchcraft practices of Europe in the Middle Ages, Satanism has also been seen to be on the rise in Muslim countries. It has become a problem that now appears frequently on the agenda in Muslim countries, as it has begun to attract the young people as a rebellious alternative to the philosophy and lifestyle of their parents. Brought to the attention of the Turkish nation when two students at the Alman Lisesi (German High School), Asl and Alp, committed suicide in Atakoy, Istanbul, June 22, 1998, Satanism tends to find a place among high school students. Moreover, it has been reported that Satanism has spread among students at private schools and has even become popular with primary school students.
Research reveals that young people involved in Satanism share common characteristics. For example, they are mostly children of well-to-do families or families with an above average income. They receive a better education than their peers, and have little responsibility. They are generally brought up in an upper-middle class environment. How can such a movement find opportunity to spread in a country like Turkey, where the majority of the population are Muslim? What do these young people lack that impels them to adopt a movement like Satanism? How can a movement that originated among the children of Western proletarian families become popular among children of wealthy Muslim families? Who spreads Satanism among our young people and how? Most important of all, why do the young commit suicide for the sake of Satan? People are already asking, What are the reasons that lie behind these incidents? This article will look into the answers to these questions as impartially as possible.
Of the factors that help in the spread of Satanism in countries like Turkey, computers and the Internet are at the fore. It is striking that young people who are interested in Satanism are mostly high school students. As most of these young people have learnt a foreign language, they can easily gain access to Satanism via the computer and the Internet. Those who want to learn about Satanism first turn to these resources. It is also known that there are people, with evil intentions, who intentionally encourage young people to become Satanists. The information given in documents and books on Satanism (verified by what happens in practice) indicates that there are some people who are trying to tempt young people into being Satanists, intentionally and systematically. I do not think that either non-Satanists, or those who claim to be Satanists in Muslim dominated countries, really know what Satanism is, which is quite natural. However, venturing blindly into an unknown subject may lead to unexpected results. The young people who were drawn to suicide, who were raped, or murdered are the bitterest indications of this. Insufficient information and ignorance are among the leading reasons for the spread of Satanism among young people. What one must ask here is why the young people in these countries want to become Satanists.
Of the answers received to this question, asked to young people who claim to be Satanists, the following ones are especially striking: I became a Satanist because I was angry with God who took away my parents when I was little. I became a Satanist to be a Satanist. I joined the Satanists because I was looking for peace. I sold my soul to Satan because I understood that it was meaningless to live in this world and that I did not belong here. or I wanted more freedom. As can be seen, some young people are angry with God, because of some loss or hardship that they experienced as small children. Some do not even know why they became Satanists. Some look for peace, purpose or freedom in such a cult that they cannot find in their families. Satanism seems attractive to these young people as it encourages them to be rebellious and reactionary against the principles and institutions around them.
The answers given above demonstrate that behind the problem of Satanism lies a lack of spiritual knowledge and education. If young people are taught correctly about God, Who created man as an honorable creature and placed him above all living things, they would learn not to be angry with God and would not side with Satan. Similarly, if they are taught that man was not created in vain, that life and creation serve a purpose, that even man himself does not have the right to take his own life, that such an action incurs terrible consequences, and that there is another world in the Hereafter, they would not desire to end their lives and they would not conceive of life in this world as being meaningless.
Another important point to be made is that no precautions are being taken to combat Satanism, despite the fact that young people are being drawn into this spiritual abyss. They are clearly embroiled in a quest for happiness. They are searching for satisfaction everywhere: in the family, at school, in the community, and in society. Here the question of what kinds of young people join Satanist cults springs to mind.
Research shows that there are certain groups of young people who are more likely to be drawn into Satanism. Some of these are as follows: children from broken homes or disfunctional families, or children who are neglected or not given the necessary care by their parents. Children who have trouble estab- lishing relationships with their peers and are therefore cast out by their friends and environment, leaving them lonely and vulnerable are also at risk. Children who are not supported or cared for by society and those who have difficulty in the full realization of their identities or personalities, and who are therefore pushed into depression, are vulnerable. Young people with spiritual or psychological problems, those who have failed to overcome the problems of adolescence and therefore suffer from depression, are often targeted by such groups, while those who are trying to find themselves by joining different groups and by being different from others, and those with a rebellious spirit, who “ rightly or wrongly - react against their family, their environment, and their teachers, are easily persuaded to join such groups. Sometimes those born with some disability or who are challenged in some way can rebel against God. On the other hand, those who are financially satisfied, healthy and sound, but who are spiritually hungry, and therefore questing fulfillment, can often be misled. Sometimes, young people can go astray merely due to their adventurous spirits, or their curiosity, or simply because they have not been given a sound religious education.
Moreover, some young people unintentionally fall into Satanism without being aware of its nature, becoming ensnared by their boyfriends or girlfriends.
Research also reveals that a great majority of the young people who tend toward Satanism and commit suicide for its sake are either high school students or of such an age. This leads to the question, Why do students at high-school age tend more toward Satanism? This can be answered as follows: the ages of the young people who tend toward Satanism range from 14 to 20. In Turkey, this range extends to 25. However, as the ages of 14 to 20 correspond to the high school years, the tendency to move toward Satanism is more likely to be seen in this age group, the years of adolescence. During this period, some physical and psychological changes occur in young people, a phenomenon that can lead to several spiritual and psychological problems. Since this age group is emotionally sensitive, these young people are more susceptible to influence and direction. They react emotionally when they make friends or join groups, and they cannot always make logical decisions on whether the friends or the groups that they are joining are sound or not. At the same time, the ages of 14 to 20 are the years when young people form their identities. Consequently, one of the main reasons why young people at high school age tend toward Satanism is the fact that they have not yet fully developed their personality, and some are suffering from some sort of identity crisis. This is also a period when individuality and freedom gain priority, and young people become more reactionary, looking for an alternative life style, something that may be shocking to the older generation. Young people at this stage in their life are easily influenced by events.
Other than computers and the Internet, books, magazines, cassettes and CDs, there are several means used for the promulgation of Satanism. Sex, alcohol, drugs, parties, friends, and money are frequently employed as means of successfully winning new members. Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder and representative of modern Satanism, used music to promulgate his satanic thoughts; he would gather people together by organizing parties, and try to impose his satanic thoughts on people through music.Today Satanist thinking and ideas are given an introduction into young minds through music, especially heavy metal and rock music. Young people are not told, Come and be a Satanist, or We're Satanists; Come and be like us. On the contrary, they are encouraged to join such gatherings by being told, We are going to get together with some friends. We have a really cool time, we listen to music, it's really fun. Or Hey, we'll teach you how to play the guitar. Meanwhile, the young girls who take part in such gatherings make it all the more attractive. Boys are urged to date any girl they want and to have sexual intercourse with her. As far as we know, this is the most effective method of luring youngsters, and girls who join have to submit. They do not even have the right of choice. Once more, LaVey was the first person to use femininity (primarily) at spreading his Satanist ideas and to abuse young girls in this respect. LaVey stated the following, addressed to young girls: Being a Satanist means submittting to every kind of illicit intercourse. It is for this reason that we stress the point that young people do not know exactly what Satanism is. We believe that a young girl would never agree to be a Satanist if she were to know in advance that she would be considered as little more than a prostitute. Unfortunately, young girls constitute the majority of those who commit suicide or who are murdered for the sake of Satanism. In order to convert young people to Satanism, alcohol and drugs are provided for those who come along, in an attempt to lure them into the group. After a recruit has at- tended several such meetings, the members disclose their true identity and say things like, We're Satanists and now you too are a Satanist. When some young people understand exactly what is going on and want to leave the group, the Satanists show their real nature, saying, That's out of the question. You've been with us up until now and we have provided you with many things. Now you say you want to leave. You are betraying us and our beliefs. It is in this way that young people become a part of a Satanist group and are entrapped in Satanism. LaVey explicitly states that Satanism is a blind alley, impossible to exit, with his threatening words, Satanism is not for everyone. Whoever wishes can become a Satanist; whoever does not wish does not become one. However, once a Satanist, it is no longer possible to get out of Satanism. It seems that most young people just say they are Satanists or take part in Satanist groups without questioning what Satanism really is, without reading anything written on the subject. Basically, being a Satanist is a matter of choice, and one just does not become a Satanist by simply saying that one is so. In conclusion, young people need to be very careful when they choose their friends; they must learn to investigate any group that is asking them to join.
The Internet and Satanic groups that operate under titles like The Church of Satan are undoubtedly the primary means of spreading Satanism in the West. Also, books written by leading figures like LaVey that include the beliefs and philosophy of Satanism play a significant role in the promulgation of Satanism. Moreover, it is known that some satanic groups publish magazines. In addition, music, CDs and cassettes are used in the promulgation of Satanism. Pieces of music composed by Satanic black metal orchestras lead young people unwittingly into the trap of Satanism. Some kinds of music, like Suicide Song and Lyric, are a prayer to Satan and satanic powers. There are many songs that the Church of Satan recommends, but, as we do not want to provide free publicity here, we will not give their titles. In fact, describing and publicizing the untrue serves its purposes. It cannot be denied that the so-called wars against trends like Satanism and substances like drugs seem to add to their appeal and promote their spread. It is hard to claim that Satanists in countries like Turkey have serious publications in great numbers; Satanism is still quite a recent phenomenon. They have not yet been fully organized. To the best of our knowledge, they have neither the means nor the ability to publish books, journals, etc. on a regular basis. Nevertheless, after a murder and rape occurred in Ortakoy, Istanbul, the newspapers announced that the police had raided places where the Satanists frequented, seizing journals, booklets, cassettes and CDs that were to be sold in certain bookstores.
When Satanism was high on the agenda, some television channels broadcasted some satanic rituals. It was at this time that it became known that they sacrificed cats in some satanic rituals, roasting their meat and drinking their blood. Questions like Why do they sacrifice cats? started to be asked. First, it must be emphasized that Satanists do not only sacrifice cats, but also other animals, such as roosters or rabbits. The shedding of blood is fundamental to satanic rituals. Satanists prefer cats for several reasons. Some people think that this is because cats are considered by some to be unfaithful animals. Some others liken cats to Satan. Since Satanists ultimately wish to destroy Satan and wield ruling power in the world; they realize this symbolically when they sacrifice a cat. Cats are also believed to be one of the animals that represent evil. Moreover, they are easy to find and catch. Yet, there are more sinister reasons behind this choice. First of all, cats are loved by people and fed in their homes; destroying everything that people love and value is one of the principles of Satanism. There is one final reason; Muslims sacrifice animals such as sheep and cattle, the meat of which is considered permissible. Satanists, on the other hand, prefer animals that are not permissible because Satanism strives to represent opposition, siding with the other side, and performing anything that religions forbid. They drink cat blood, thinking that it will give them the feeling of immortality. A reason for imbibing blood is that Satan is regarded as a blood sucker.
Before answering this question, we should first ask two questions. Why does a person commit suicide? How can young people at the age of fifteen or sixteen take the chance of death for the sake of Satan, when they are in the spring of their life without any responsibilities, when they do not have to worry about earning a living, when they have no financial worries, when they should be clinging to life? It is wrong to ascribe young people's suicides for the sake of Satan to a single reason. There might be numerous reasons. For a Satanist, to die for the sake of Satan or to take the chance of dying when necessary are sacred ways of dying. In other words, Satanists regard dying for the sake of Satan as a glorious act, in the same way as mainstream religions regard martyrdom. In addition, dying for Satan is a sign of loyalty to him. Therefore, a young person who dies for the sake of Satan proves his or her sincerity for the cause. Moreover, some young people are led to confusion when they chat on the Internet. They are drawn toward dead ends and complications with words like Satan wants to sacrifice you! Some young people end up committing suicide. Some are chosen to be sacrifices by ill-intentioned people and en-couraged to commit suicide or threatened with death if they fail to do so. It is in this way that Satanists make their sacrifices. The notes left by young people who have committed suicide contain messages like, We have sold our souls to Satan. Satan sent us a message and ordered us to die. We understood that life is empty and it would be meaningless to live here any more. One of the three suspects who were accused of having killed Sehriban C., as a sacrifice for Satan in Ortakoy, Istanbul, said in the trial at the Second Criminal Court that he had been receiving messages from Satan: There is a certain agreement between Satan and me. At first I was hearing voices. I thought they were all in my head for a long time. Then Satan started talking to me. He gave me orders. He has been leading me for a year. Once I didn't carry out his order and he punished me. My arm became swollen. I have no religious beliefs. Satan told me that I was his messenger. And I do not belong to this world. I'm fed up with life. ˜Take me,' I said. He said, ˜First prove yourself, then I'll do it.' One day he ordered me to sacrifice a girl. I had to prove that I was the messenger of Satan. I did it with Zinnur and Omar. Satan congratulated me. I passed a great test. This statement reveals that such young people are suffering a spiritual emptiness, have psychological problems, and were not brought up in such a way that they were able to become aware of the realities of society and our values. Here a question springs to mind: Do people really receive messages from Satan? Indeed, Satan can inspire people. One does not have to be Satanist to be inspired. Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, says, Every person has a Satan. (Tirmidhi, Adab, 78) Also, the Holy Qur'an mentions that the evil ones inspire their friends (6:121). On the other hand, Satan has no authority over people. His sole duty is to en-courage people to do evil and to deny God (14.22). Moreover, he cannot influence good people. To follow Satan or not is a matter of human will. Thus, Satan can inspire not only Satanists but also any other person. The question is whether one heeds Satan's inspirations and misinformation. The fact that young people who drift toward Satanism and attempt or commit suicide for its sake in Turkey are mostly children of wealthy families and are in general better educated than the norm, according to Turkish standards, leads us to the question: Is there something wrong with the Turkish educational system? I believe that we can find the answer to similar questions in the words of a young graduate of a foreign school in Turkey who had attempted suicide and was saved at the last moment: 'At school we had difficulty answering questions like 'Who am I? What do I expect in life? Where will I go? What's the meaning of life?' Using drugs... Having meaningless conversations... Listening to foreign pop music and memorizing the lyrics... Living in this music and atmosphere as if it were real. It was the thing most dear to us.' This person also mentioned that the deaths of two of his friends had been covered up. He underlined the fact that they were living in a world of emptiness, away from Europe and isolated within Turkey in the following words: 'Our high school was like an island. Children who had everything lacked sincerity and real friendship on this island. We lived a certain jargon, a subculture in this frame of odd estrangement. We weren't yet interested in politics. On the other hand, our school taught us how to think. In English and German classes we discussed the meaning of life after reading Kafka, Camus; but the world our foreign teachers took us to was far away. We weren't living in Europe. We also were completely isolated from Turkish society. If we had been living in Germany, we would have learned individualism, egoism, how to protect our interests from nursery school on. However, everything we wanted was procured immediately, even our breakfast. Our Turkish teachers would enter our classes, however, they were not of the same status as us, and they felt inferior. Foreign teachers would come for a period of 4-5 years and were familiar with neither Turkey nor the Turkish mentality.' As is evident in these words, some young people read books by writers like Kafka and Albert Camus, books based on existential philosophy. These books tell of how human beings fall in this world and criticizes the meaninglessness of life, encouraging young people to think about the values of the community in which they live. This can be a dangerous thing if a young person does not come from a family with deeply rooted values, or lives in a society where there are no healthy alternatives offered to the traditional values of that society. These young people are brought up in isolation from the history, culture, national and spiritual values of their society, causing them to rebel against their own identity and personality. Such circumstances push young people, if they lack spiritual support, into a spiritual emptiness and finally into a dead end, where the only way out may be suicide. One of the fundamental reasons for such suicides is that these children are being taught nihilist ideals and are being brought up in an artificial environment, an environment which has been transplanted from the West, but one in which only the outward trappings have been taken, and the roots, i.e. the values, have been left behind. This can in no way be a healthy situation, the environment that these children find themselves in is foreign to the environment of their families and neigborhoods, and is lacking everything. Is it any wonder then that these children end up as suicides?
We should be very careful when we talk about Satanism and we should avoid explicitly calling anyone a Satanist. We should follow the precept 'innocent until proven guilty.' Unless a person says that he is Satanist or decisive proof is brought forward, sorting people into various categories and regarding some young people as Satanists may lead to uneasiness and reaction in society. To put it more simply, any wrong move or action made by officials may cause those who are not Satanists to join them. As mentioned before, Satanism is a reactionary movement. One needs to be very careful. These issues were discussed in September-October of 1999, when Satanism was high on the agenda and some reactions were voiced, such as, 'People should not be categorized according to the music they listen to, the color of their clothes, the style of their hair, or the earrings they wear, and they should not be regarded as Satanist according to such.' Indeed, not everyone who listens to rock, metal, or heavy metal music is a Satanist. Similarly, not everyone who wears black T-shirts and jeans is a Satanist. People should be able to decide what clothes they wear for themselves. On the other hand, it should be kept in mind that young people who claim to be Satanists listen to rock and metal music, and prefer black because it represents the 'dark powers'.
There is no doubt that the main responsibility for preventing young people from drifting toward Satanism lies with the family. Families play a crucial role in the shaping of a young person; a dysfunctional family may well help in determining whether a young person is inclined toward Satanism or not. We know that young people from broken or dysfunctional families cannot find the essential love, care and support from their families, and thus are in danger of becoming interested in Satanism. Parents should take care of their children as a trust from God and be careful about whom they make friends with, where they go, whether they acquire undesirable habits, what time they get home in the evenings, and whether they attend school regularly. It should be remembered that Satanism spreads in Muslim countries through young people and cliques. A good friend is also a good example and a bad friend a bad example. Moreover, parents should neither oppress their children, yet nor should they be too permissive. They should try to be their friends at times, while trying to understand them. They should try to fulfill the wishes of their children, if it is for something legitimate or they should dissuade the child when such a desire is wrong. They should remember that their children need both financial and spiritual support and they should look for ways to spiritually satisfy their children. Many children today complain that they look for happiness outside their families, mostly in their groups of friends, because they cannot find love, support, and happiness. Finding the love and support that one desires from one's own parents outside the family is impossible, if the parents fail to provide it. It is not enough to provide young people with money. They need love, care, and compassion as much as they need material things. Parents do not do their children any favor if they grant all their wishes, provide them with endless financial means, and leave them free to make their own choices. Parents should know when to say no, restrict certain behavior, and even make children earn their own pocket money. It seems that some young people have tried everything and have everything they want in life, leaving only Satanism; therefore, they want to try this too. What all this goes to show is that youngsters should be brought up in accordance with the realities of life and should learn how to shoulder certain responsibilities. Some families whose children have been trapped by Satanism say that they fulfilled every financial need, but these families never mention what they failed to provide. To put it more clearly, they, for example, begrudge their child, from whom they withhold no material desire, a religious or moral education. The real reason behind the growth of Satanism is a lack of religious education. In addition, certain precautions should be taken, considering the fact that young people who enter such groups are mostly high school students; motives of sex and freedom play an important role in young people joining such groups, and the tendency to prove themselves is especially powerful at these ages. School principals and teachers can also play an important role in protecting young people from harmful movements like Satanism. They should regard every student as being entrusted to their safekeeping and should struggle to train them first as a good person and then a good citizen. They should inform the children of harmful movements like Satanism, warn them to stay away from such groups, and help those who have entered them. Educators must have sound information about such subjects in order to teach the students properly. However, they should be very careful when teaching such subjects and avoid making them attractive. Furthermore, the parent-school relationship should be strengthened and students should be prepared for life and future with reciprocal communication. Officials also play an important role in the proper education of the young people to whom we will entrust our future. Governments should not neglect these movements, they should not make the mistake of considering them as marginal. Something should be done even if one individual is lost to Satanism. Moreover, we observe that Satanism spreads rapidly among youngsters and that no serious precautions have been taken. However, Satanism is not the only harmful movement that sweeps up young people. The sinister country of alternative, harmful movements includes those entrapped by Satanism, but at the same time there are the glue-sniffers in dark corners or in subways. We should look after all the young people who have fallen into this dark country and protect them from all harmful movements; nobody can guarantee that today's glue-sniffer will not become tomorrow's Satanist. Members of the mass media should also take this matter seriously. They should inform people responsibly and with accurate information, sticking to the objective and un-biased principles of journalism. They should not simply regard movements like Satanism as a piece of sensational news, but try to bring forth the real causes that foster the tendency of young people toward such movements. Moreover, they should not ascribe every incident of suicide to Satanism, publicizing the issue by exaggerating it or by putting it on the agenda frequently, making it a matter of curiosity. On the other hand, parents and all institutions should also attend to the youngsters who have been entrapped by Satanism. They should not cast them out or regard them as dangerous people that belong to an eccentric movement, but rather they should try to help them back to the mainstream. They should also look after those who have been prosecuted and those have served a sentence; most youngsters do not know what Satanism is or how dangerous a path it is. If they had known, they probably would not have tended toward such a movement. If parents sense that their children are interested in such a movement, they should not try to cover it up in shame, but rather they should bring it out into the open, asking for help from those are familiar with the subject or from a psychologist or psychiatrist. Those who see such a tendency in their friends should also look after them and inform the parents and teachers of their friends immediately. If school principals or teachers feel that their students have such a tendency, they should attend to these children, in cooperation with the family. They should not try to cover up the issue, in the fear that it might harm the school's reputation; nothing is more important than human life.
Research has shown that young people who tend toward Satanism or commit suicide for its sake have little religious faith, having had little or no religious education. This is a reminder of the fact that man is not simply a physical being, but also a spiritual one, a bipolar being. If a person is not spiritually satisfied, they will search for satisfaction in another place, sooner or later, no matter their financial status. This search can sometimes lead down the wrong path; Satanism is the most obvious example. Unfortunately, the education given in our schools today does not fill this spiritual void. In fact, it is not aimed at doing so. The rapid growth in the number of youngsters who resort to Satanism, drugs, etc. is the most distressing result of this. Similarly, recent research shows that the age for drinking alcohol has dropped to 13, a fact that jeopardizes the future of these young people and consequently of our society. Parents, educators, religious officials, theologians, society, and government officials should fulfill a role in order to fill the spiritual void suffered by young people. Whether one has religious beliefs or not, we should provide our people with religious information; the majority of the population in Turkey are Muslim. The support our young people need is only available through proper religious education. If we neglect this issue, a spiritual void will emerge. Certain people will exploit this emptiness and the result will be, as in Satanism, that some youngsters will worship inappropriate objects, and even take on the risk of death for their cause. In fact, Satanism is a phenomenon contrary to human nature, as all monotheistic religions regard Satan as man's greatest enemy, the representative and promoter of all evil. Satan is neither an object of worship nor does he have a claim for divinity. Moreover, he did not in fact reject God (Abraham, 14/22). This is the very reality that lies under the contradiction and inconsistency of Satanism. There is a creature called Satan and some youngsters worship him and accept the risk of death for his sake. This is an anomaly that should be dealt with seriously. If we had informed our young people about God, the Prophet and Satan, nobody would now be worshipping Satan; Satan is a being that should be avoided and stayed away from. However, it is a sad fact that some of our young people worship Satan, man's greatest enemy, and in this way they help him to ask for help from his enemy.
To sum up, let's not categorize our young people ac- cording to the music they listen to, the color of their clothes, the length of their hair, or the earrings they wear. At the same time, it is important not to reduce Satanism to certain types of music or certain clothes, hair styles or accessories. If this were the case, then why and for what cause did these young people die or take their own lives? What is to be done now is not to categorize young people into certain groups with certain names, but rather to look for and produce sound and permanent answers to these two questions: What should we do to prevent young people from being entrapped by Satanism? What should we do for those who are already entrapped? Satanism is not a problem that can be solved by security precautions; it is a matter of acceptance or denial. Several social, psychological, familial, and societal reasons might lie behind young people's drifting toward Satanism, however the real reason for such a tendency toward harmful movements is a lack of religious education and a spiritual void. If a young person regards Satan as a being to be worshipped and dares to commit suicide for his sake, then it is impossible to explain the situation in another way; Satan has become a matter of faith. Immoral behavior that is under the scope of faith can only be corrected by proper religious instruction. We are sorry to say that some families today are paying the price. If we do not want to pay greater penalties, we must attend to our young people; it is to they that we will entrust our future.