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Monday, January 01, 2007

Video games and fine literature in the Middle East

As you might imagine, video games here in the Middle East are not quite like Dungeons and Dragons. MEMRI's blog takes a look at what the local video game market has to offer:
The Saudi Gazette writes, "IMAGINE you're a Palestinian teenager praying in a mosque when an Israeli settler walks in and starts shooting at rows of worshippers. What do you do? This is one of the plots of Under Siege, a Syrian made videogame produced by Afkar Media. Under Siege, a sequel to Under Ash, is just one of the new videogames targeting Arabs and Muslims and stirring controversy in the West.

"'This is a very positive game for children to understand what their Palestinian brothers are facing. Now they can become the heroes fighting for a just cause and not the villains as many Arabs and Afghans are depicted in Western video games... Just as they have games with Arabs and Muslims as the target we have games where Israelis are the target,' said Mobarak A-Khaldi, a Saudi father. 'Why is it politically correct for the West to have Arabs as the bad [guys] in their games while it is politically incorrect to kill Israeli soldiers in the occupied territories in our games?'

"'The game gives young Muslims and Arabs a chance to see themselves in the role of good guys, which will help bolster self-esteem,' said 31-year-old Radwan Kasmiya, the author of Under Siege... Just as the violence in Western computer games such as Grand Theft Auto, Under Siege along with other war games is also facing criticism for their violent content."

According to the website of the game's creator: "When you live in middle-east you can't avoid being part of the image, as a development company we believe that we had to do our share of responsibility in telling the story behind this conflict and targeting youngsters who depend on video games and movies (which always tell the counter side) to build their acknowledgement about the world."
Here's an image from 'Under Siege' (MEMRI has more of them from this game and from other games mentioned in this article):

The Saudi Gazette also mentions three other games: The Stone Throwers, Special Forces (a Hezbollah Game), and Quraish.

According to the article, The Stone Throwers ends with a message showing a crowd carrying a casket draped with the Palestinian flag: "Game Over: Well maybe you have killed some Israeli soldiers in the computer world... THIS IS THE REAL WORLD. Stop the killing of the innocents in Palestine, before the game is really over."

MEMRITV released an excerpt from a report on Al-Arabiya TV on February 23, 2005 about Special Forces.

"Reporter: What does one get for winning?"

"Interviewee: I already told you what he gets. He reaches the martyrs' paradise, and lives among the young men he had been with during the days of Jihad, who liberated the land with their blood."
I checked the web sites of a couple of the game makers that were in the poster. Afkarmedia allows you to download some games for free. Its projects include TV commercials and a movie. We've had enough problems in this house with computers crashing, so I did not chance the downloads.

The other site that I saw on the MEMRI blog is Fikr.com. Fikr sells books out of Damascus, Syria. Here are a couple of them:

Women between the Tyranny of the Westren System and THe Mercy of the Islamic Law

by: Dr.M.Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti
tr.: Nansi Rubirts
rev.: Anas al-Rifa'i
Subject: Problems of Civilization

Despite increasing awareness of Islam throughout the Western world, there continues to be a prevailing belief among Westerners that Muslim women enjoy few, if any, genuine rights, and that whatever rights they do enjoy are the result of Western influence on the Islamic World. In: Women Between the Tyranny of the Western System and the Mercy of the Islamic Law, Dr. al-Buti details women's rights and freedoms as provided for by Islam in the professional, social, political, religious, academic and cultural spheres. In addition, he deals in careful detail with specific questions revolving around issues such as the Qur'anic teaching on males' and females' inheritance, polygamy, husbands' treatment of their wives, divorce and the "veil". In so doing, the author presents us with a well-documented, forthright study capable of providing people in Western societies with a more accurate understanding of Islamic teachings as they pertain to women and their roles in society.

Here's another one I know you'll all want to read:
America and the Fight Against Terrorism

by: Muhammad 'Adnan Salim
tr.: Anas al-Rifa'i
rev.: Hidayat Hartfurd
Subject: Problems of Civilization, Politics

A collection of articles analyzing the events of the September 11th attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon. These essays share the author's heartfelt outrage as well as pointing out the attitude of Islam towards these tragedies. They make clear the Islamic position amidst circumstances where facts are mixed with misunderstandings. [Which 'misunderstandings' might those be? The ones that relate to the fact that nearly every terror attack in the world - including 9/11 - has been carried out by Muslim males between the ages of 18 and 45? CiJ]

The purport of these articles is to bring forth questions about what could possibly have triggered such horrible events and how might terrorism be eliminated. [Let me guess - kill all the Jews? CiJ]

Anyway, the MEMRI blog post is worth a look, especially the pictures. You can find it here.


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