The video game promotes martyrdom
“Fursan al-Aqsa – the knights of the al-Aqsa mosque” is the name of the murderer of the Brazilian-Palestinian businessman Nidal Nijm. According to his own statements, he only wants to show the Palestinian perspective in the conflict. “This game does not spread hatred against Jews,” the Steam sales page reads.
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In fact, the game guides users to join Islamist terrorist organizations and die fighting against Israel. If the player is killed, an exclamation appears on the screen that can also be heard at the funerals of Hamas fighters: “Rejoice, mother of the martyr! Prepare your son for his wedding in heaven.” Just before killing himself and a group of Israeli soldiers with an explosive belt, a character says to the player character:
Either we win or we become martyrs: both are a victory!
Anyone who kills at least ten “Zionists” with a knife will be rewarded with the Steam achievement “Sword of Allah”. One mission you’re supposed to fire rockets at Israel, another time you’re supposed to feed a captured Israeli commander to a shark. Finally, an animation shows how people pray in front of a pile of corpses of Israeli soldiers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, while the Quran is recited: “Fight against them! Allah will punish them at your hands (…)”.
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Steam doesn’t publish precise sales figures; so far the game has not been a best seller. Compared to famous series like Call of Duty, it is amateurishly produced. But if you read fan comments on Steam over the past few weeks, it seems like some players are allowing some players to live out their own personal terrorist fantasies.
The game has been officially available on Steam since April 2022, and a third of the nearly 300 user reviews were added in the last 30 days. They are 98% positive. “May the Zionists perish.” OR:
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Steam earns money from every game sold
For gamers, Steam is like Amazon and Facebook at the same time: here you can buy games and also the social network where you can play with friends and exchange ideas about games. There are as many as 33 million people active every day on Steam and in 2022 they paid almost 8.8 billion dollars into the coffers of Valve, the US company behind the platform. For each game sold, 20-30% of the proceeds go to Valve, so the company also makes money from this advertising game for terrorist groups. Valve did not respond to an extensive ZDF 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 industry at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. On Steam, explicit videos of violence against Jews can be found 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 increased.
The developer thanks Steam for continuing to offer his game
When questioned by ZDF, developer Nidal Nijm denied that his game spread anti-Semitic and terrorist content. Being against the Israeli army has nothing to do with rejecting the Jewish religion, he says. “I don’t see the Palestinian resistance as terrorism. I see the Israeli soldiers as the biggest terrorists in the entire world.” He had already published a statement on his Steam page on October 10:
You all know that many pro-Israel groups want to ban my game at any cost. (…) I thank Steam and Valve for not giving in to the pressure of these groups who want to censor my right to freedom of expression and creativity.
“Yes, I support the Palestinian struggle against Israel, but I don’t support any specific political group. (…) I don’t agree with many of the things I see at the moment (…), especially the killing of civilians on both sides.” This distancing from the latest Hamas terrorist attack could just be a pretense of protection to avoid being banned from Steam.
On the game’s official social media channel, Nijm wrote on November 11: “Every time we kill Zionists, we have the moral right to do so.” Nijm justified himself to the ZDF by saying that this statement also referred to “Israeli soldiers”. “They deserve to be killed mercilessly,” says Nijm. He was “happy” that Hamas terrorists came paragliding in like 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 an eye on the game but continues to sell it
Steam should be aware of the content distributed by the game. Valve has officially withdrawn it from sale to customers in Germany – “following a request from the German authorities”, says Nijm. “This product is not currently available in your country,” the store page states. 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.