A new version of a computer game titled "Fursan al-Aqsa: The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque" allows players to recreate the events of the October 7th terror attack carried out by Hamas. Additionally, players can assume the role of a Hamas terrorist in battles in Gaza or as a member of the Lions Den terror group in Jenin during a recent IDF operation to neutralize the group.
While the game content doesn't involve shooting civilians, players can act as a suicide bomber or use other violent means against Israeli soldiers. The game, originally published three years ago, has sparked controversy for its content. The developer, Nidal Nijm, who identifies as a Palestinian and a devout Muslim, has faced criticism for using music considered blasphemous by Muslims in the game's videos, despite the potential violation of Islamic religious principles, known in Arabic as "haram."
The game comes with a content warning from Brazilian authorities and uses Unreal Engine, developed by Epic Games, known for Fortnite. Although access to the engine can be obtained without scrutiny, it raises concerns about companies like Epic Games allowing or at least not preventing the creation of controversial and political content using their intellectual property.
The game presents itself as a political tool from the outset. In the Steam online forum, where it is currently sold at a discounted winter price, the developer writes to interested players and fans that it serves as a means to raise awareness about the Gaza war events. He also boasts about being a follower of radical Islam symbolically. However, the game doesn't seem to gain significant popularity, as many players quickly abandon it, indicating that the attention it draws is due to its content rather than its gaming qualities.
The scenes required for the player to win the game are highly violent, even compared to other violent video games. Methods for neutralizing enemies, including Israeli soldiers and police, involve actions such as suicide bombings, slitting throats or decapitation, similar to the actions of Hamas terrorists during the October 7th terror attack. The locations are taken directly from IDF bases surrounding Gaza and the game encourages attacking them.
Furthermore, the player is tasked with fighting against security forces during an operation to mitigate the Lions Den terror group in Jenin. During this stage, the game replicates red inverse triangles seen in Hamas and Al-Qassam Brigades videos, marking the locations of soldiers during combat in Gaza and emphasizing the harm inflicted on them. To add to the controversy, the raid on IDF bases surrounding Gaza is carried out using a drone strike – seen as a direct invitation for players to identify with Hamas terrorists.