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The Austrian far-right has capitalized on fears about mosques and minarets with an online video game where the player “shoots down” minarets and fez-wearing Muslims.
A regional chapter of the Freedom Party (FPÖ), Austria’s leading anti-immigration political party, launched “Moschee Baba” (Bye-Bye Mosque) at the end of August. In this game, minarets randomly rise up in the midst of a picturesque Alpine city. The player scores points by targeting and “shooting” down the minarets. About halfway through the game, human targets start to appear—fez-wearing muezzins (mosque officials who make the call to prayer) with black moustaches and curly hair. The player scores points by “shooting” them as well.
At the end of the game, the screen displays the caption: “Styria is full of mosques and minarets! Don’t let that happen: On September 26, vote for Dr. Gerhard Kurzmann and the FPÖ!” The game was originally produced for the anti-minaret campaign in Switzerland last year.
This anti-Muslim game created outrage in Austria. The Austrian government quickly banned the game. On Sunday, September 5, Austrian President Heinz Fischer called it “absolute nonsense” and “a real lack of taste.” UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, who was visiting President Fischer, denounced the game as “totally unacceptable” and “Islamophobic.”
Alpen-Donau.info, an Austrian Neo-Nazi site that runs on an American server, then featured the game on its homepage. Alexander Segert, the entrepreneur who sold the game to the FPÖ, had his attorney complain to the Alpen-Donau.info’s San Francisco provider about alleged copyright infringement. The Neo-Nazi site then went offline temporarily. It came back online no longer featuring the actual game “Moschee Baba.” It now provides, however, a link to a YouTube video demonstrating how the game is played.
In connection with this controversy, a previously unknown Turkish group launched a cyber attack on a service provider associated with the FPÖ. A group calling itself “Black Peace” splashed images of a mosque with six minarets on about fifty of the provider’s hosted Internet pages, with text condemning “Moschee Baba.”