Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy Sandiaga Uno on Thursday called for a ban on a popular game Fortnite saying the content depicted in the game was blasphemous.
He was referring to reports that a user-generated map allows players to destroy a site that resembles the Kaaba.
“In this game, I was told that there are icons that are considered to be similar to the Kaaba that must be destroyed to get new weapons and advance to the next level,” CNN Indonesia quoted Uno as saying.
A video posted on YouTube in 2019 shows a character carrying a scythe walking in an area similar to the Masjid al-Haram, along with a Kaaba-like architecture built at the centre. This caused much outrage and prompted Al Azhar last month to issue a fatwa on June 30.
"The centre has previously warned against some electronic games that preoccupy the minds of young people, distract them from their basic tasks of acquiring useful knowledge or work, and lock them up in virtual worlds away from reality while inciting them to hatred and self-harm or the harm of others," Al Azhar posted on its Facebook.
The Fortnite video game, the statement added, encourages players to destroy the Kaaba to win weapons and advance to the next level. "This affects young people's beliefs and self-respect and underestimates the importance of their sanctities. Hence, the centre reiterates the banning of all electronic games that encourage violence or contain false ideas which distort faith or show contempt for religious beliefs."
But according to the game’s developer Epic Games, user-created maps in the creative mode allows players to build things which later cannot be destroyed.
Fortnite is played by an estimated 350 million gamers worldwide, many of them in Indonesia.
“Banning the game is way too extreme, since Fortnite has a huge fan base in Indonesia,” one 25-year-old fan told Vice earlier this week. Another suggested the government do more research before banning anything.
Indonesia’s minister however believes the destruction of the site which resembles Kaaba could lead to religious intolerance across the country as it contradicts religious principles.
Many believe this demonstrates how Islamophobic content permeates the gaming world.
Earlier in April this year, the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked Sony, Microsoft, and Valve to not distribute and host the game "Six Days in Fallujah." The game depicts the war which had taken the lives of over 800 Iraqi civilians not only "justifying the illegal invasion of Iraq" but also "reinforcing Islamophobic narratives."
In 2017, Hurriyet Daily News of Turkey reported the various games depicting harmful content such as "Islamophobia, drug use, pornography and violence." The writer noted that these games are used to "spread negative perceptions against Islam" wherein the games put the player "in the role of a soldier and they gain points by killing Muslims." Games listed as containing Islamophobia included Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock and Resident Evil among others.