15 February 2019

A group of young Palestinians have launched a new video game application for Android phones to counter Israeli attempts to obliterate and Judaise the Muslim sites inside the Old City of Jerusalem. The game aims at introducing the city and Al-Aqsa Mosque in addition to preserving the Arab-Islamic identity in the minds of the application users.

The game, which was launched as an application for smartphones by Burj Al-Luqluq Social Center Society in early February, simulates Al-Aqsa Mosque and its various structures. The game is designed to introduce the mosque to the application users by allowing them to wander inside and outside it.

The purpose of the game, which is designed in an attractive and sophisticated way to captivate kids’ attention, goes beyond entertainment goals. The game is said to embody a political quest to counter the Judaisation of the Old City of Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The designers of the electronic game stated that the aim behind creating the application is to educate the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic public about the Old City of Jerusalem and its holy sites by presenting each monument by its Arabic and Islamic name, and to provide gamers with information about these Islamic landmarks.

Mohamed Saleh, the coordinator of Burj Al-Luqluq Social Center Society, indicated: “We are trying to take advantage of children’s attraction to electronic games. We intend to take them on tour inside Al-Aqsa Mosque, and to introduce them to its different sites, as the game requires each player to answer specific questions about the mosque to obtain the guardian rank.”

He explained that the game includes several levels, starting with “visitor player” level where the application user learns the features of Al-Aqsa Mosque and wanders around to search for “the treasure.” At the end of each level, the player is asked to answer certain questions about Al-Aqsa Mosque.

If the player manages to complete all the levels and answer the questions, then he/she becomes the guardian of Al-Aqsa Mosque thanks to the information and culture he/she learns about the mosque.

The winner of the game receives the key to the Mughrabi Gate with the title ‘Liberator of Jerusalem.

The game allows those who are outside Palestine to have a tour inside Al-Aqsa Mosque and learn about it virtually.

A special Facebook page has also been set up for coordination between players.

The non-profit Palestinian association aspires to attract a wide range of children to use the educational and entertaining game through marketing the application in schools.

Saleh stressed: “The Old City of Jerusalem and its historic sites are undergoing an unprecedented process of Judaisation aiming at erasing the city’s identity. Additionally, educational curricula are also targeted by the marginalisation plan employed by the occupation state. We are trying to root the identity of the city and its holy sites in children’s minds and hearts through innovative means.”

He continued: “We started with Al-Aqsa Mosque, and we seek to expand the game’s prospect to cover all the neighbourhoods of the city during the next stages.”

The Old city of Jerusalem suffers from an unprecedented process of Judaisation, through the seizure of Palestinian and Islamic holy sites and landmarks and modifying their names. In effect, Al-Aqsa Mosque has been subjected to frequent incursions by Israeli settlers; however, these violations are resisted continuously by the Mourabitoune (defenders of the faith) who always keep an eye on the mosque.

The game has captured the attention of Israeli officials and media.

According to Lt. Gen. (res.) Baruch Yedid, former head of Arab affairs in the IDF’s Central Command, “the goal of the game is to teach the youth all the secrets of the Al-Aqsa Mosque during a virtual tour, and the players are seen as strong, warrior-like people who have already experienced the game and report that the game trains them to confront the Jerusalem Police.”

Yedid claimed that Turkish funding stood behind the development of the game.

“Under the guise of cultural and heritage activity, Turkish involvement is growing.

“All these initiatives can be attributed to the Turkish Cultural Center on Azhara street in East Jerusalem. I visited the place and saw vehicles with diplomatic plates, and the conclusions are solely the responsibility of the listener,” he added.