Zionist group ILF calls for banning Palestinian video game

Fursan al-Aqsa: The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the most controversial games of 2022, is back in the news. So, what happened this time?

It appears the International Legal Forum, a Zionist advocacy group based in Israel has renewed calls for the global ban of the game. Several other advocacy groups and pro-Israel activists have joined their voices to the ILF’s demand; we’ll discuss their statements and reasoning after giving a quick rundown of the game.

Originally released in April 2022 for PC (via Steam) by Brazilian game developer Nidal Nijm (who has Palestinian heritage), Fursan al-Aqsa: The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque features gameplay similar to Call of Duty and other popular first-person shooters.

The story of the game revolves around the adventures of Ahmad al-Falastini, a fictional activist-turned-rebel Palestinian who was unjustly imprisoned by Israel Defense Force and left to rot in a dungeon cell for five years. After those five years are over, our protagonist Ahmad al-Falastini embarks on a Dishonored-like quest for revenge. He joins the rebel Palestinian group known as Fursan Al-Aqsa.This group is fictional, and not based on any particular real-life equivalent group, according to the game dev.

The premise is simple enough, but when the game was announced back in 2021, the International Legal Forum threatened Valve with legal action if it did not remove the game from its Steam library. The ILF, a powerful Zionist legal organization, had sent a letter claiming that Valve would run afoul of anti-terrorism laws if it did not take action. And so, the game page was pulled from Steam’s library on October 2021, two months before the originally slated release date.

Alas, it would not be a permanent victory for the censorship crowd, as in December 2023, the game returned to Steam, despite angry protests and condemnations from ILF representatives. Making things even more controversial was the fact that developer Nidal Nijm had updated the game after October 7th to allow players to play for Hamas fighters.

In an interview with Newsweek, he claimed that at no point in the game are you able to attack civilians. This appears to be true. The footage I’ve seen only shows your character fighting armed IDF soldiers. Obviously, this is still a controversial thing to include in a video game, which leads us to the renewed calls by censorship groups to not only ban the game, but to make it possible to criminally charge gamers if they buy, sell, or play the game. You read that right.

“You wouldn’t create a game where you could play the role of the Columbine shooters, bomb the USS Cole, or fly the planes into the World Trade Center,” said Algemeiner columnist Asher Stern. “Those atrocities do not have two sides; the line between right and wrong is clear.”

His point was echoes by hundreds of pro-Israel accounts on social media platform X. One commenter worried of what would happen if gamers were “radicalized” by this game into befriending the teen girls protesting Israel on campuses.

After declaring free speech does not protect the right to sell or play The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Mr. Stern gets right to the point of what he’d like to see happen:

“If terror groups utilize Fursan as a recruiting tool, that could place Steam and Valve in violation of Federal anti-terrorism legislation, which comes with serious ramifications, including potential fines and/or imprisonment,” Stern said. “Steam and Valve have a responsibility as a leading global platform for gaming to prevent the abuse of their software for incitement to violence and terror, and remove this game before it’s too late and someone is harmed. The results of incitement, like the October 7 massacre, are no game.”

Asher Stern is the head of an organization consisting of over 4,000 lawyers and activists. He doesn’t seem to understand gamers or how games work. Video games for ages have allowed you to play as real life villains.

Many World War 2 games allow you to play for the Nazis or the Soviet Union. There are also video games such as Going Postal and Hate that allow you to commit terrorism within the game world and even to rape civilians. What makes this most recent call for censorship even sillier is that unlike Going Postal, Call of Duty, or Hate, there isn’t even an option to harm women or children in The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque

This is nothing new. I remember my shock as a kid visiting my cousin for a family gathering (I want to say it was Christmas, but it might have been New Year’s) and watching him play the infamous “No Russian” campaign from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. I was shocked seeing all the civilians gunned down. But even as a kid, I never thought to myself “This should be illegal!” nor did I ever consider my cousin to be a terrorist-in-training.

It is perfectly fine and good to criticize games with elements and plots that are immoral or that seem immoral to you. You don’t have to play it. You can make a negative review. You can debate it on forums. Other people can disagree. But turning to the government to ban a video games like The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is censorship and we at Niche Gamer will always stand against it, wherever it comes from, whatever its target is.

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Participation Goblin is six feet tall, but only managed to win participation trophies in sports. He was always a much better gamer than a jock.


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