Video game promotes martyrdom
“Fursan al-Aqsa – Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” is the name of the shooter of Brazilian-Palestinian developer Nidal Nijma. As he says, he only wants to show the Palestinian perspective in the conflict. “This game does not spread hatred towards Jews,” it says on the Steam sales page.
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In fact, the game leads users to join Islamist terrorist organizations and die fighting against Israel. If the player dies, a cry appears on the screen, which can also be heard at the funerals of Hamas fighters: “Rejoice, mother of the martyr! Prepare your son for marriage in heaven.” Just before killing himself and a group of Israeli soldiers with an explosive belt, the character says to the player character:
Either we win or we become martyrs – both are victories!
Anyone who kills at least ten “Zionists” with a knife will be rewarded with the “Sword of Allah” Steam achievement. In one mission you have to fire missiles at Israel, in another you have to feed a captured Israeli commander to a shark. Finally, the animation shows people praying before a pile of corpses of Israeli soldiers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem while the Quran is recited: “Fight them! Allah will punish them at your hands (…).”
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Steam does not publish exact sales data, the game has not been a bestseller so far. Compared to such famous series as Call of Duty, it is an amateur production. However, if you read fan comments on Steam over the last few weeks, it appears that some players are allowing some players to live out their personal terror fantasies.
The game has been officially available on Steam since April 2022, with a third of its nearly 300 user reviews added in the last 30 days. They are 98 percent positive. “Let the Zionists die.” Or:
The first game that is not just Western propaganda and features real heroes.
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Steam makes money on every game sold
For gamers, Steam is like Amazon and Facebook in one – here you can buy games, as well as a social network where you can play with friends and exchange ideas about games. As many as 33 million people actively participate on Steam every day, and in 2022 they pumped almost $8.8 billion into the coffers of Valve, the American company behind the platform. From each game sold, 20 to 30 percent of the proceeds go to Valve, so the company also makes money from this game advertising for terrorist groups. Valve did not respond to ZDF’s extensive request.
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“Especially in areas where users have a say, we have been seeing huge amounts of inhumane content for years,” says Mick Prinz, who researches extremism in the gaming sector at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. Explicit videos of violence against Jews can be found on Steam with just a few clicks, Prinz says.
Anti-Semitism has long been a problem on the platform. Since October 7, the defamation of Jewish life and the delegitimization of Israel have intensified.
The developer thanks Steam for continuing to offer its game
When asked by ZDF, creator Nidal Nijm denied that his game spread anti-Semitic and terrorist content. He says opposition to the Israeli army has nothing to do with rejection of the Jewish religion. “I do not see Palestinian resistance as terrorism. “I see Israeli soldiers as the biggest terrorists in the whole world.” Already on October 10, he published a statement on his Steam page:
You all know that many pro-Israel groups want to ban my game at all costs. (…) I thank Steam and Valve for not giving in to the pressure of those groups that want to censor my right to freedom of expression and creativity.
“Yes, I support Palestine’s fight against Israel, but I do not support any specific political group. (…) I don’t agree with a lot of the things I see now (…), especially the killing of civilians on both sides.” This distancing from the latest Hamas terrorist attack could probably just be a protective excuse to avoid being banned from Steam.
On November 11, on the game’s official social media channel, Nijm wrote: “Whenever we kill Zionists, we have a moral right to do so.” Nijm justified himself to ZDF by saying that the statement also referred to “Israeli soldiers.” “They deserve to die without mercy,” says Nijm. He was “pleased” that the Hamas terrorists arrived on paragliders, as in his game, because “it led to a lot of funny memes about my game,” Nijm said, without any sympathy for the victims.
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Steam is keeping tabs on the game, but is still selling it
Steam should be aware of what content the game distributes. Valve has officially withdrawn it from sale to customers in Germany – “as a result of a request from the German authorities,” says Nijm. “This product is currently not available in your country,” it says on the store’s website. But this limitation can be overcome with minimal technical effort. The title is freely available outside Germany.
What we see here is a glorification of terrorism that should not be offered on Steam or any other site.