A new video game headed for Steam has gone viral for being centered around Palestinian shooters who attack and kill IDF soldiers.
Titled Fursan al-Aqsa: The Knights of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the game is developed by Nidal Nijm, a Brazilian resident of Palestinian origin.
The game promises to let players take the role of Palestinian "freedom fighters" and break what it calls "the cliché of portraying Arabs as Terrorists."
"You will play in missions across Palestine with many objectives to accomplish, epic battles, powerful guns, vehicles to drive, and more," the game's page on Steam notes.
The game is currently slated for a December 2021 release. A free playable demo is available for download.
The game's story follows Ahmad al-Falastini, who was "unjustly tortured and jailed" by the IDF for five years, as noted on the Fursan Al-Aqsa website. Now free from prison, Falastini is out for revenge and to "free Palestine" by joining the titular Fursan Al-Aqsa, a new Palestinian resistance movement that operates similarly to the terrorist organizations in the region.
NIJM HIMSELF has been working on this game alone for around 10 years. In it, one can see an alternating third- and first-person perspective, a variety of environments, with Falastini shouting during combat "Allahu Akbar" – "God is Great."
Fursan Al-Aqsa will also have a multiplayer mode. Rather than having an emphasis on online play, the multiplayer will be split-screen, which, in Nijm's own words, is "to revive the golden era of 90s shooters."
Though user reviews are not yet available, those who have played the demo have given it positive reviews.
A native of Brazil, Nijm's father was a former Palestinian Fatah fighter, he explained.
"My father is a former Fatah fighter. He immigrated to Brazil after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982," he explained. "I have no connection to any political or military party, group or organization, I just lived with my father, his whole history of struggle and the resistance of the Palestinian people. And it was my father who encouraged me to get into video games since I was a little boy, and he told me to study and learn so that one day I could produce a video game about the Palestinian Resistance."
But for Nijm, the game is also about changing perspectives.
"Since I was little I've always seen that here in the West, in movies and video games, Arabs were portrayed as terrorists, so I always wanted to change that image. And as I've always liked games since I was little, I decided to create this game of mine to show that Arabs are not terrorists, but they fight for the freedom of their people," he said.
The political views of Fursan Al-Aqsa are very blatant throughout. Palestinian flag-colored fists along with many proclamations of "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" appear in both the games and promotional material.
Even when dying in the game, the death screen features a bloodied hand, handgun and knife on a Palestinian flag with the caption "YOU BECAME A MARTYR. Rejoice, O mother of the martyr, rejoice! Prepare your son for his marriage (in paradise). Tie the band on all your pain and spread his wedding handkerchief. Spread your anger against the oppressor, his injustice must be stopped."
However, as far as Nijm is concerned, the game is in no way antisemitic or discriminatory.
"The plot of this game is a fictional history inspired by real facts. Even the political and military groups depicted on the game are fictional," reads a disclaimer on the game's website.
"In this game, the player does not shoot Israeli civilians, women, children, elderly – only soldiers. Also in this game, there are NO images of sexual content, illicit drugs, religious desecration, hate speech against any group, ethnicity, or religion, [antisemitic] propaganda against Jews, Nazi propaganda, or boasting of any terrorist groups and/or other unlawful acts. This game only contains the virtual representation of the Palestinian Resistance Movement against the Israeli Military Occupation, which is officially recognized by the United Nations."
Fursan Al-Aqsa has also been approved for release by the Brazilian Justice Department and has been given an 18+ rating.