Steam sells terrorist propaganda as a video game

Steam sells terrorist propaganda as a video game

Propaganda for terrorist groups: a screenshot from the video game “Fursan al-Aqsa”. The poster in the background shows PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled.Source: Nidal Nijm Games

Decapitating Israeli soldiers who begged for mercy with a sword; Roll over the “Zionists” with a tank; how Hamas invaded Israel with a paraglider on October 7 and blew themselves up at a military base.
Terrorist propaganda as a video game not only exists in the dark corners of the Internet, but you can openly purchase it on Steam, the world’s largest PC gaming platform, for just under 15 US dollars. The billion-dollar US company behind Steam apparently has no problem with this.

Videogames promote martyrdom

“Fursan al-Aqsa – the Knights of the al-Aqsa Mosque” is the name of the shooter by Brazilian-Palestinian developer Nidal Nijm. According to his own statements, he just wants to show the Palestinian perspective on the conflict. “This game does not spread hatred against Jews,” says the Steam sales page.

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In fact, the game guides users to join Islamic 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 the wedding in heaven.” Just before killing himself and a group of Israeli soldiers with an explosive belt, a character tells the player:

Either we win or we become martyrs – both are a victory!

Line of dialogue from “Fursan al-Aqsa”

Anyone who kills at least ten “Zionists” with a knife will be rewarded with the “Sword of Allah” Steam achievement. In one mission you must fire rockets at Israel, in another you must feed a captured Israeli commander to a shark. Finally, an animation shows how people pray before a pile of dead bodies 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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More attention since Hamas attack on Israel

Steam does not publish precise sales figures; the game has not been a bestseller so far. Compared to well-known series like Call of Duty, it is produced in an amateur way. But if you read the fan comments on Steam over the past few weeks, it appears that some players are allowing some players to live out their personal horror fantasies.

“Are there paragliders in the game? I want to know how realistic it is before I buy it,” asked a user on October 9, two days after Hamas attacked Israel with such paragliders. Another player with Wehrmacht soldiers in his profile picture responds: “Yes, and they are very realistic and cool.” Game developer Nijm reacts to this with a smiling smile.

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:

The first game that isn’t just Western propaganda and features real heroes.

Steam user rating for “Fursan al-Aqsa”

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Steam makes money from every game sold

For gamers, Steam is like Amazon and Facebook in one – here you can buy games and also the social network where you can play with friends and exchange ideas about games. Up to 33 million people are active on Steam every day and in 2022 they poured almost $8.8 billion into the coffers of Valve, the US company behind the platform. From every game sold, 20 to 30 percent of the profits go to Valve – so the company also makes money from this advertising game for terrorist groups. Valve did not respond to an extensive request from ZDF.

Most gamers just want to pursue their hobby, but experts say Steam has long had problems with its lax approach to extremism on the platform. Right-wing extremist content and even content glorifying National Socialism can often be spread there without consequences. According to ZDFheute research, the group “Nordadler”, which was banned in Germany in 2020, also logged into Steam and openly displayed its ideology there.

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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. Graphic videos of violence against Jews can be found on Steam with just a few clicks, says Prinz.

Anti-Semitism has always been an issue on the platform. Since October 7th, the denigration of Jewish life and the delegitimization of Israel has increased.

Mick Prinz, Amadeu Antonio Foundation

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 military has nothing to do with rejecting the Jewish religion, he says. “I don’t see Palestinian resistance as terrorism. I see Israeli soldiers as the biggest terrorists in the entire world.” He had already published a statement on his Steam page on October 10th:

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 pressure from these groups who want to censor my right to freedom of expression and creativity.

Nidal Nijm, game developer

“Yes, I support the Palestinian struggle against Israel, but I do not support any specific political group. (…) I don’t agree with many of the things I’m seeing right now (…), especially the murder of civilians on both sides.” This distancing from the latest Hamas terrorist attack could just be a demand for protection to avoid being banned from the Steam.

On the game’s official social media channel, Nijm wrote on November 11: “Whenever we kill Zionists, we have the moral right to do so.” Nijm justified himself to ZDF by saying that this statement also referred to “Israeli soldiers”. “They deserve to be killed without mercy,” says Nijm. He was “pleased” that the Hamas terrorists arrived flying in paragliders like in his game, because “it generated 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 must be aware of the 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 not currently available in your country,” says the store page. But this limitation can be overcome with minimal technical effort. The title is available for free outside of Germany.

“Especially for those affected and who have had to deal with the terrorist videos of recent weeks, it is difficult to bear that such a propaganda game is available on Steam,” says expert Prinz. This is not a supposed debate about killer games – games could deal with serious topics and also address the atrocities of war. “This game definitely doesn’t belong in that category,” Prinz said. It is filled with dehumanizing depictions and anti-Semitism.

What we see here is a glorification of terrorism that should not be offered on Steam or any other site.

Mick Prinz, Amadeu Antonio Foundation

Escalation with Hamas : Current news about the situation in Israel and Gaza

The conflict in the Middle East worsened with the attack on Israel by the radical Islamic group Hamas. Israel attacks targets in the Gaza Strip as a result of the terrorist attack. Current news on the blog.

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