Saturday, September 13, 2008

Scare Tactics

Today Marc Van Gurp informed me about the furor involving the free online game "Muslim Massacre," which made its debut with the following content description.

The United States of America, a leader and role model for all in the modern world, is taking drastic measures to secure the freedom and safety of the world. Having born witness to the atrocities of the followers of Islam time and time again, it has been decided that the entire Muslim race shall be wiped from the surface of the Earth.

You, the American Hero, have valiantly volunteered to make landfall in the Middle East and ensure that no Muslim man or woman is left alive. Your mission priorities are to seek out and neutralize the Muslim leader Osama bin Laden, their radical cult leader Muhammad and finally Allah, taking down any targets you meet on the way.

According to an article in The Independent, the apparent hate-mongering stance of the game quickly became a cause for protest among Muslim groups. Many of their objections had to do with possible negative influences on the young.

British Muslim youth organisation The Ramadhan Foundation expressed its "deep condemnation and anger" at the game.

The group said: "This game is glorifying the killing of Muslims in the Middle East and we urge ISP providers to take action to remove this site from their services as it incites violence towards Muslims and is trying to justify the killing of innocent Muslims.

"We have written to the British Government to urge an inquiry into this game and take action to shut down the site. This is not satire but a deliberate attempt to demonise Muslims."

The foundation's chief executive, Mohammed Shafiq, added: "Encouraging children and young people in a game to kill Muslims is unacceptable, tasteless and deeply offensive.

"There is an increase in violence in this country and some of it comes from video games. When kids spend six hours a day on violent games they are more likely to go outside and commit violence.

The rhetorical situation surrounding the game soon became even more complex, as the creator of the game came forward and issued the following public apology on his website:

I would like to make a public apology for any offense that I might have caused through releasing this game, and to Muslims in particular. My intentions when releasing this project were to mock the foreign policy of the United States and the commonly held belief in the United States that Muslims are a hostile people to be held with suspicion. I would like to make it clear that I have never shared such a belief and my intention was to mock those who actually do believe these things.

It quickly became obvious to me that releasing this game did not achieve its intended effect and instead only caused hurt to hospitable, innocent people. I believe removing this game and website will do much more to attain my desired effect than leaving it on the internet, so I am doing just that.

I would like to ask for the forgiveness of Muslims around the world and to make it clear that I did not release this game with ill intent. So without further ado, I would like to say that I am truly apologetic for what I have done and will take full responsibility for all offense that has been caused. I can only hope that any further misgivings can be laid to rest.

Like the fanfilm of "SonicJihad," which was the subject of an article about high-profile misunderstandings of digital media that I wrote, questions of intent can be difficult to gauge without more information about the rhetorical purpose of a content creator of "funny" material. Unlike the unapologetic SonicJihad, however, "Sigvatr" has issued a public mea culpa.

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