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MIDDLE EAST: "Muslim massacre" game stirs debate

September 15, 2008 | 10:05 am

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A new computer game promoting “modern religious genocide” against followers of the Islamic faith is causing an uproar among Muslims in the Arab world and elsewhere.

According to media reports, the game, "Muslim Massacre" (available on a website that appeared to be down Monday morning), allows players to be in control of an “American hero” on a mission to kill bearded Muslims and suicide bombers using a machine gun and a rocket launcher.

On the game’s website, the creator, identified only as Sigvatr, encourages Internet users to “take control of the American hero and wipe out the Muslim race with an arsenal of the world’s most destructive weapons.”

The game is said to be inspired by the "war on Islam" declared by the United States.

“Don’t be a liberal...! Download the game now,” reads the promotional ad on the game’s frontpage.

As the game progresses, the hero takes off to the Middle East and tries to hunt down Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the Prophet Mohammed and finally Allah.

An article on the game published recently on the website of the Arab TV channel, Al Arabiya, received mixed reactions from Arab readers. Some condemned the game for attacking Islam while others saw it as a reaction to extreme Islamists.

One commenter urged Muslims around the world to stop the game. “If it were a game showing Muslims killing Israelis, the whole world would have sought revenge,” a comment read. 

“We should rather object to the crimes of terrorists killing in the name of resistance and Jihad, rather than object to killing in a game,” another commentator said.

According to Al Arabiya, the game’s website was been blocked by some Arab states.

In an opinion article published last week by the United Arab Emirates daily, Gulf News, the newspaper's associate editor, Nicholas Coates, said that the game is the result of a misunderstanding of Islam:

"What is it with such persons that they need to exacerbate an already sensitive situation?... It is a sure-fire way to incite hatred against one's fellow persons of a particular religious persuasion. It is invidious in its concept and it is invidious that it is available to everyone on the Internet. But apparently there is nothing that can be done to have it removed."

The game has also caused an uproar among members of the Muslim community in the United Kingdom. The Ramadhan Foundation, a British Muslim charity organization, said the game glorified the killing of Muslims in the Middle and inciting violence.

The head of the organization, Mohammed Shafiq, said in a statement released last week on the foundation's website:

“Encouraging children and young people in a game to kill Muslims is unacceptable, tasteless and deeply offensive. There is an increase in violence in this country and some of it comes from video games. When kids spend six hours a day on violent games they are more likely to go outside and commit violence.”

-- Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: Screenshot from the computer game "Muslim Massacre," taken from the game's website.

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, as well as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates," and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.

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