Better Representing Muslims: A Few Ideas

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Xdeser2:
Dont know why it quoted you and posted this >-<

my bad

No worries. Besides, I've seen weirder things happen on the forums.

Falterfire:

AldUK:
I really hope I don't get warned for this post, but I just have to say after reading this, that most of the stereotypes have some grounding in reality. But it's the same for everyone, no matter where you're from. Also, the muslim religion specifically states that followers should convert all non-muslims with refusal meaning death. There's no misinterpretation there, look in the Koran and you can read it for yourself. Should we really, truthfully be tolerant of a religion that wants to kill anyone who isn't a part of it?

Aaaand the Bible includes a line about stoning gays to death and several about slaves. Should we really, truthfully, be tolerant of a religion that encourages the death penalty for homosexuals and the ownership of slaves?

The tiny, but important difference is that these parts of the bible have officially been deemed obsolete and irrelevant for todays christians. The Quran however is considered the word of God himself, infailable and always valid. That's the very reason why countries with sharia law still stone women who got raped to death and behead gays and "witches". All in the name of Allah, as directed by the prophet Muhammad.

Falterfire:
Most Muslims aren't exactly on board with the idea of murderizing anybody who isn't Muslim, no matter what their holy book says.

You haven't been following the news in recent months, have you? In all countries of the "Arab Spring", all non-muslims must fear for their lifes. Foreigners and non-muslims get abducted, tortured, persecuted or outright executed on sight. All in the name of Allah. I could post some videos, but that'd get me insta-banned.

I know what's gonna come now: "that's only a minority, not all muslims are like that". Well, 70% of the egyptian people have voted for the people who promote exactly that. And it's not like the "good" muslims in these places fight to protect and support those who suffer from the wrath of the "bad" muslims. Guess that's saying a lot.

I live near Berlin, Germany, a major city with LOTS of muslim immigrants. I have to deal with them personally more often than I'd like to. And unfortunately, most prejudices turn out to be actually true more often than not. I've also read a good deal of the Quran, it actually DOES tell you to kill infidels because they are "lower than lifestock" and not beliving is worse than death. I can quote that as well if anyone wants me to.

thisbymaster:
Fine, here is the deal Muslims stop bombing/shooting/killing us and each other then we can talk.
/Boston

"Fine, here is the deal, [Americans] stop [bombing/invading/drone-striking] us then we can talk."
/Yemen

See what I did there?

-----------

On topic, I broadly agree with the theme of the article, though I think that suggesting the Covenant from Halo are some kind of Islam allegory is probably pushing it.
Similarly, I don't think the Redguard thing is relevant -they, like all other races in TES, culturally derive from a whole range of real historical artistic styles. The nords and imperials are pretty racially clichéd as well - probably more than the redguard.
Most of the buildings in Morrowind are pretty Carthaginian looking too, and that's with a capitalist political system, efficacious paganism, and a population of cat-people, lizards, zombies, and elves!

That aside I agree, and what would be really refreshing would be having a modern-setting game with a Muslim character where their religion was perhaps mentioned once, and was henceforth completely irrelevant. That way you aren't cack-handedly promoting or detracting from Islam, you just treat the character as an actual person.

AldUK:
I really hope I don't get warned for this post, but I just have to say after reading this, that most of the stereotypes have some grounding in reality. But it's the same for everyone, no matter where you're from. Also, the muslim religion specifically states that followers should convert all non-muslims with refusal meaning death. There's no misinterpretation there, look in the Koran and you can read it for yourself. Should we really, truthfully be tolerant of a religion that wants to kill anyone who isn't a part of it?

Ok, take it from me, the Islamic faith and some Islamic cultures have some potentially violent and contentious practices but this specific one isn't true. I specialized in the Islamic faith in college and have actually studied the faith. Both its scriptures and its laws. Regarding your statement about a command to compulse people into belief. There are specific verses that say the opposite, that there can be no compulsion with faith. They have historically acted on that. Take the Muslim invasion of Spain by in 711 a.c.e. True, that was within a hundred years of the inception of the faith which does speak to its militant nature, but the Jews and the Christians were only killed if they fought back but generally left alone otherwise. Islam gives special provisions for Jews, Christians, and Sabians, even going so far as to say that they have nothing to fear on the day of judgment (it is said twice, once each in the 2 and 5 Surahs). Nonbelievers are taxed and not permitted to serve in certain functions but death isn't an automatic like people think. Adherents of other faiths or Atheism may be a bit murkier a discussion though. But spreading the religion by the sword is generally referring to conquering other lands and installing Sharia law and encouraging the faith. Not forcing or killing if they don't convert.

What most people don't realize is that Islamic Denominations also have Hadiths (acts/sayings of the Prophet) that are used in combination with the Qur'an to form Sharia Law. Some Hadiths are held at the same level of authority as the Qur`an. The two largest denominations, Sunni and Shi`ite, make up about 90% of the faith. Sunnis have four schools of law that each place a different emphasis on various passages of Hadith and the Shi'te expression has its own school of law with a different set of hadiths they consider legitimate. The next largest group may be something like the Quranists who are Qur`an onlyists. You may have heard of Islamic sufis but you can be a member of the other denominations and be sufi rather than Sufi being a seperate expression/denomination. I mention this to establish that not all Muslims are necessarily the same, but they're a lot more similar to one another than Christian denominations.

What Western culture would probably be the most upset with Islamic teachings on would be things like:

1. Since the Prophet married Aisha when she was six/seven and consummated the marriage when she was 9, this is an inherrently righteous action going forward. There's been a lot of work to apologize this practice. He was likely 40 years old at the time and the vast majority of hadiths agree with these numbers.

2. The Qur`an has a three step response to reprimand your wife for being out of line. Attempt 1: Warn her. Attempt 2: Sleep in a seperate bed. Attempt 3: Beat her. I'm surprised this verse hasn't gotten more public circulation. Modern translations of the Qur`an had tried to lighten the verse by adding the word "lightly" to the third step. Like that makes it cool. This, along with other verses, actively objectify and trivialize women. Women who defend Islam as a religion that's all about love and equality are sadly misguided into defending something that's against them.

3. The Qur'an demands active prejudice against non-Muslims. Some instances do incur death on the individual but other things like basic rights and not being discriminated against are thrown out of the way by order of their God. I'm referring to things like being taxed or being unable to have rights to free speech.

4. Iconoclasm. The Sunni faith abhors physical representation of living beings. This is why Sunni culture has almost no images of people's faces or animals or anything. The controversial side of this is that they very much believe in destroying icons/images due to their schools of law (not Qur`anic verses). If Sharia law ever reached, say, the Louvre, it would be burned to the ground.

So this article fails to account for difference between a realistic evaluation of the faith and a "postive portrayal". It is difficult to distinguish between prejudice and direct portrayal of a group of people when a non-trivial segment of them seek to actively pursue what we believe to be evil. There are many Islamic cultures that believe we are in direct war with them and so to portray them as peace loving people who just want to dance in fields of flowers with Americans in the right context is just as misleading as making them insane and blood thirsty all the time without exception. There are many peaceful Islamic groups, especially in the US. But they have to ignore certain aspects of their faith to fit into Western society.

One thing I will absolutely say is that the Qur'an doesn't encourage the slaughter of innocents. Seperate cultures may, but not the faith. These bombings and other nonsense are not condoned in their faith. Fighting against militant groups = totally legit.

Excellent article. These lessons could be applied in a broader sense to game development as a whole.

Gonna skip over the echo chamber. Pointless to debate in this atmosphere

Mahoshonen:
Once again, I hate myself for reading the comments on an interesting article. The Escapist really needs a paywall.

Oh well, at least I got a new book to read. Perhaps some of you on this thread should read it too.

This made me smile. Just felt like sharing that

DVS BSTrD:
Or maybe we could you know, play as one?

Novel concept :P

I suppose Dark Cloud could count as having Middle Eastern characters/setting, but that could be dismissed as just an art design choice

Therumancer:
Liberals, the peace at any price movement, and humanitarians like to try and focus on individuals and put a human face on problems

A) Character writing is quite literally about focusing on an individual. Kinda missing the point here

B) You know, when you needlessly throw in your own political biases, you largely invalidate your own points, which if stated in a more rational (or "moderate" if you prefer. wink) fashion, you'd much more effectively get your point across by not clouding your own argument

Chaosritter:

The tiny, but important difference is that these parts of the bible have officially been deemed obsolete and irrelevant for todays christians. The Quran however is considered the word of God himself, infailable and always valid. That's the very reason why countries with sharia law still stone women who got raped to death and behead gays and "witches". All in the name of Allah, as directed by the prophet Muhammad.

You haven't been following the news in recent months, have you? In all countries of the "Arab Spring", all non-muslims must fear for their lifes. Foreigners and non-muslims get abducted, tortured, persecuted or outright executed on sight. All in the name of Allah. I could post some videos, but that'd get me insta-banned.

I know what's gonna come now: "that's only a minority, not all muslims are like that". Well, 70% of the egyptian people have voted for the people who promote exactly that. And it's not like the "good" muslims in these places fight to protect and support those who suffer from the wrath of the "bad" muslims. Guess that's saying a lot.

I live near Berlin, Germany, a major city with LOTS of muslim immigrants. I have to deal with them personally more often than I'd like to. And unfortunately, most prejudices turn out to be actually true more often than not. I've also read a good deal of the Quran, it actually DOES tell you to kill infidels because they are "lower than lifestock" and not beliving is worse than death. I can quote that as well if anyone wants me to.

...You do realize that Christians still worship that kind of God, right? Sure he might not advocate stoning rape victims /now/, but there was certainly a period where he was cool with it. Sends children to hell, too. And the Jews still have all of the crazier Hebrew Bible laws still technically canon, but nobody minds, because they don't actually hurt anybody. See, there's this fascinating new concept we just got from the Athenians--it's called the justice system. When somebody does something bad, they're punished for their actions. Conversely, when someone doesn't do something bad, they're not punished. We're still working out the kinks, but if everything goes right, we might be able to hold people accountable for their actions. Wonderful new idea, really. Judging individuals when they do something wrong...I tell ya, those Athenians come up with the wackiest forms of government.

Xdeser2:
Totally agree with most of this article

But If I can be allowed one nitpick....the Redguard one isn't a good example, in the Elder Scrolls, Redguard culture has been explained like crazy in the lore, its nothing like the stereotypical "Arab" portrayal

Also have to nitpick about the Game of Thrones point. The most "Arab" group are the people of Dorne. A group of ethnically and culturally diverse peoples ruled by a benevolant ruler, Prince Doran Martell. They are one of the safest places in the seven kingdoms, one of the strongest militaries, and is home to some of the most morally just and peaceful Houses in Westeros.

Falterfire:
Aaaand the Bible includes a line about stoning gays to death and several about slaves. Should we really, truthfully, be tolerant of a religion that encourages the death penalty for homosexuals and the ownership of slaves?

Most Muslims aren't exactly on board with the idea of murderizing anybody who isn't Muslim, no matter what their holy book says.

Clearly the solution is to just outlaw both. Because obviously, ancient texts with little-to-no relevance in the modern world are just the thing to use as a guideline in said modern world.

/flamebait.

OT: The last item in the article is by far the most important one to achieve IMO. People (including myself, sadly enough) get so caught up in making distinctions between "us" and "them" that they lose sight of the fact that no matter what the group, people are still people. There's good ones, bad ones, and most are somewhere in the middle.

It's human nature to catalog and stereotype, so we may never get past it, but we really need to stop looking at the categories people fall under and pay more attention to the fact that they're people.

Silentpony:

Falterfire:

AldUK:
I really hope I don't get warned for this post, but I just have to say after reading this, that most of the stereotypes have some grounding in reality. But it's the same for everyone, no matter where you're from. Also, the muslim religion specifically states that followers should convert all non-muslims with refusal meaning death. There's no misinterpretation there, look in the Koran and you can read it for yourself. Should we really, truthfully be tolerant of a religion that wants to kill anyone who isn't a part of it?

Aaaand the Bible includes a line about stoning gays to death and several about slaves. Should we really, truthfully, be tolerant of a religion that encourages the death penalty for homosexuals and the ownership of slaves?

Most Muslims aren't exactly on board with the idea of murderizing anybody who isn't Muslim, no matter what their holy book says.

The problem comes from fanaticism. The Bible is a horrible book with terrible life lessons and even worse characters, and thankfully not many people follow it. Judaism and Christianity have been around long enough to have...mellowed...out some. They did their Crusades and Inquisitions and whatnot. Islam is the youngest of the three and still going through its difficult teenage years. And embracing a troubled teen doesn't make them any LESS a troubled teen.
I'm all for equality, but fanatic Muslims love to quote the Qur'an on how a truly devout Muslim won't allow other religions to exist.
And the idea that most Muslims aren't on board is...nice...but its the same idea that most Scientologists don't believe in aliens. Its what they say to outsiders. I'd bet that given a choice between a world of many religious beliefs, and one of ONLY Islam...most Muslims are going to choose the latter. Not that they aren't pleasant people, but in private they decry a lot of what people do.

You do realize the Crusades the Christians had were against Muslims right?
Islam may be the youngest of the big three, but they are ancient compared to Scientologists and even Mormons. They are hardly a "young" religion.

As for them all secretly hating everyone behind closed doors? Sorry, that's just paranoid.
Don't let fear control what you believe.

Imp Emissary:

You do realize the Crusades the Christians had were against Muslims right?
Islam may be the youngest of the big three, but they are ancient compared to Scientologists and even Mormons. They are hardly a "young" religion.

As for them all secretly hating everyone behind closed doors? Sorry, that's just paranoid.
Don't let fear control what you believe.

The Crusades were fought because the ruling houses of Europe wanted control of the spice trade in/out of Spain, which was run by Muslim trading houses. Granted to get the peons of the time to go along, they invoked God and Hell and whatever. My problem is that fanatic, political leaders in the Muslim world are able to readily use the Qu'ran for their own gain, and because its a holy book, its immune to criticism. The real problem isn't the zealot-ism, its that technology allows for much greater "acts of faith". A thousand years ago the best you could hope for was killing a few noblemen and a village or two. Now a days, with dirty bombs, zealot-ism is much more dangerous. That Islam is still going through a difficult time is one thing, and honestly, not a big deal. It'll grow up and become inclusive in 500+ years and that's totally 100% fine. THAT a single violent Islamic extremist can kill a thousand-times the number of a single christian Crusader with a sword, IS a major problem.
We learned how to use Nuclear Weapons before we learned to not use them. Its a problem

AldUK:
I really hope I don't get warned for this post, but I just have to say after reading this, that most of the stereotypes have some grounding in reality. But it's the same for everyone, no matter where you're from. Also, the muslim religion specifically states that followers should convert all non-muslims with refusal meaning death. There's no misinterpretation there, look in the Koran and you can read it for yourself. Should we really, truthfully be tolerant of a religion that wants to kill anyone who isn't a part of it?

The bible has its fair share of out of whack stuff.

Being gay = dead, women are possesions , slavery is fine , if a childs being unruly its acceptable to sell it, a woman who wears two different fabrics should be stoned to death , planting two crops side by side is a lethal transgression , working on the sabbath? get the town together and stone that heathen!

zumbledum:
The bible has its fair share of out of whack stuff.

Being gay = dead, women are possesions , slavery is fine , if a childs being unruly its acceptable to sell it, a woman who wears two different fabrics should be stoned to death , planting two crops side by side is a lethal transgression , working on the sabbath? get the town together and stone that heathen!

Read all replies before posting please. I already stated my stance in this thread towards all religions, including Christianity.

*Yanks this conversation back onto topic.*

One thing to do, and this is likely not to happen for awhile, is to have a game portraying someone in the collectively lumped together part of the world known as the Middle East, but after a massive biological holocaust has wiped out a vast majority of the world.

We never know who they are, we never hear them speak, we can only observe and explore and study. It might even be that they're wearing a full body suit designed to protect them from the elements. It becomes a survival game. One all about you trying to recover fragments of the past to be brought back to your home for safe keeping. Until the surface is habitable once more.

This could well apply to anywhere in the world, but it might be a nice way to freeze-frame part of that world, then show a reason for it to be presented, with the goal of the game literally being to understand the history of this part of the world. We could show us moving between the different ethnic regions of that part of the world. See how the thoughts, actions, even the very degree of information could change. Your highly advanced suit might point out certain differences in the same books. Information left out, put in, altered, things like that.

This would essentially be a game about looking at the modern Middle East and letting you do so from the point of a silent protagonist with no voice, personality, or name. Because that way it then becomes *you* exploring the world.

Silentpony:

Imp Emissary:

You do realize the Crusades the Christians had were against Muslims right?
Islam may be the youngest of the big three, but they are ancient compared to Scientologists and even Mormons. They are hardly a "young" religion.

As for them all secretly hating everyone behind closed doors? Sorry, that's just paranoid.
Don't let fear control what you believe.

The Crusades were fought because the ruling houses of Europe wanted control of the spice trade in/out of Spain, which was run by Muslim trading houses. Granted to get the peons of the time to go along, they invoked God and Hell and whatever. My problem is that fanatic, political leaders in the Muslim world are able to readily use the Qu'ran for their own gain, and because its a holy book, its immune to criticism. The real problem isn't the zealot-ism, its that technology allows for much greater "acts of faith". A thousand years ago the best you could hope for was killing a few noblemen and a village or two. Now a days, with dirty bombs, zealot-ism is much more dangerous. That Islam is still going through a difficult time is one thing, and honestly, not a big deal. It'll grow up and become inclusive in 500+ years and that's totally 100% fine. THAT a single violent Islamic extremist can kill a thousand-times the number of a single christian Crusader with a sword, IS a major problem.
We learned how to use Nuclear Weapons before we learned to not use them. Its a problem

True. Zealot-ism is an issue. However, painting all the "bad guys" as Muslims(specifically Muslim sterotypes) just puts us in more danger, because then we will be looking for a fake vision of the problem, and miss the real ones.

For example, the U.S. just caught a Militia group of Christians, who were planning to murder a law officer, and bomb their funeral in an attempt to kill as many cops as possible.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/us/30militia.html?_r=0

Indeed there are bad people out there. However, they aren't all Muslim, or even living in some far away land.

I like this article. I definitely agree that we need more characters with personality. I can't recall the last time I played a game where a middle eastern character was anything beyond being the guy you insert bullets into. And that part about them being regular people, that has to be my favorite part.
Also, this Crescent Moon book interests me, I may read it some day. Thank you for informing me of its existance.

And for God's sake guys, go to religion/politics if you wanna argue about how much you hate religion. This place is for discussing the article, not complaining that you don't like people with faith.

AldUK:

I had made a mental note not to further comment on this thread in order to prevent escalation of emotions resulting in warnings being handed out. But your post actually ticked me off. What you're saying here is that you know more than anyone else on this subject why? Because you've been to a certain part of the world a few times?

I did not claim to know more than anyone else on this subject, I claimed that I have more experience of The Middle East/North Africa/The Arabian Peninsula and their peoples than anyone else posting in this thread. It is indeed because I've been to those parts of the world. I don't know why you think that's somehow not a good argument.

You would trust an anthropologist or a diplomat who had lived there for years, wouldn't you? Why not afford me some of that trust? Sure, I've not lived in any of those places for more than a couple of months, but let me tell you: a week in a country is all you need to smash prejudices you didn't even know you had, and make you realise how little you really know about life and the people there.

And make you realise how shitty and distorted a representation of the place you get in your home country.

How about you tell us about your experiences there and provide actual reasoning behind your statement? As to the site I linked, it's the result of a google search, I knew that those passages existed, I simply needed to find a website quoting those passages to provide proof to my statement, something which you haven't done.

You don't realise what you're doing, and that's what so frustrating for me.

You are objectifying and attempting to essentualise a massive complicated mess of individuals, cultures, societies, histories, geographies, ethnicities, languages, and so on and asking me to "prove" that your reductive argument- so called as it is only based on the Qu'ran- is wrong. Do you really think it's as simple as: 'All x think y; T/F' and here's the stat to back it up?

Let me put it this way. Over 3/4s of the world believe something along the lines of "Americans are fat, stupid, selfish, arrogant, consumerist, materialist, know-it-all Christian whackjobs. We should be resisting their international domineering."

Now I ask you to prove them wrong.

See how nonsensical it is?

Reacting with "Prove it" is child's play, and you strike me as more adult than that.

My point is, don't simply wade into a discussion to belittle somebody based on a rhetoric which you can't back up with facts and information.

What do you want me to do? I can't remember most of the day-to-day occurrences- what you call facts and information- only the conclusions I drew from the trip. Should I re-type my personal diaries for you? Construct a MASSIVE ethnography on the whole of the region? There is no way to prove stuff like this. It's too big, and I'm not going to even make a tenth of the effort it would take to explain this to you on an internet forum where in all likelihood you'll ignore me anyway.

Imagine the book- it would be hundreds of volumes containing all the minutiae of life in that area. Great tomes on the history, culture, economy, politics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy of the region would be required, and even then you'd be committing some ethically dubious academics. And you're asking me to condense my taste of that into a forum post.

Hell, if I could write that book, I sure as hell would not give it out for free on the internet. It would be groundbreaking.

The only way you'll be able to understand my paradigm is to experience what I've experienced, and that would involve living in the region and having connections to it and so on, (which I'm assuming you do not have at the moment in any meaningful way).

I'm sorry that you found my claim to superior experience belittling, but I do have to wonder why.

There's as much truth in "You'll understand when you're older," as, "You'll understand when you're there." As anyone who as aged can tell you, the first is true. As anyone who has travelled properly can tell you, the second is true.

VikingKing:

This would essentially be a game about looking at the modern Middle East and letting you do so from the point of a silent protagonist with no voice, personality, or name. Because that way it then becomes *you* exploring the world.

That's essentially what anthropologists do.

Of course, they can't become invisible flies-on-walls. Instead, they try to integrate fully into the culture they're studying so as to no longer be regarded as an outsider by the inhabitants. They become socially unremarkable, like a chameleon. They then participate and observe in the culture, take notes as they go along, and bind it all up in an ethnography at the end.

A great deal of understanding comes from the participation, not just the observation. For example: it's very hard for a Westerner to understand the importance family connections and social status play in the Middle East (and, actually, most of the rest of the world), until they find themselves living in that social context where it is right to make claims on family, and for your family to make claims on you.

The West seems to me to be relatively disconnected. For example: where do you go when you want money? Not your family or friends, but a cold, mechanical bank. Or a cold, mechanical corporation to exchange your time and skills for money. What seems so common-sense to us is not in fact so.

Hell the Japanese are so connected to lineage that they used to kill themselves because they had dishonoured their families. A Japanese CEO recently killed himself because he had to lay off so many of his employees. Westerners just can't *get* that. Such social connections form some of the core of the justification for honour killings.

As much as I'd love an Anthropology game, I think that gameplay would be rather boring for most people. Although it would be interesting for the rest, as it would essentially be living abroad without leaving your house.

Plus, y'know, how would it work? You'd essentially be simulating whole regions of the world and dropping the player in them. Nevermind the arguments I made above about the inherent problems of objectifying things so complex, I have a more practical problem in mind: Would the NPCs speak English or their Native dialects? If it's English, are you committing some form of cultural imperialism? How much is lost in translation (It's a lot more than you'd think)? If it's Arabic, how the hell will anyone outside of the Arab-speaking world know what's going on? So much of culture is language you'd be conducting a grave misrepresentation if you excluded it.

An example I read recently was of how the British and (IIRC) the Thai describe the phenomenon of rain. English-speakers say, "It is raining." They say, "There is rain." And that subtle difference says a whole lot about the differing worldviews.

Quantum Glass:
...You do realize that Christians still worship that kind of God, right? Sure he might not advocate stoning rape victims /now/, but there was certainly a period where he was cool with it. Sends children to hell, too. And the Jews still have all of the crazier Hebrew Bible laws still technically canon, but nobody minds, because they don't actually hurt anybody. See, there's this fascinating new concept we just got from the Athenians--it's called the justice system. When somebody does something bad, they're punished for their actions. Conversely, when someone doesn't do something bad, they're not punished. We're still working out the kinks, but if everything goes right, we might be able to hold people accountable for their actions. Wonderful new idea, really. Judging individuals when they do something wrong...I tell ya, those Athenians come up with the wackiest forms of government.

Uhm, what?

First of all, Jesus, the prophet of christianity/son of da man himself said stuff like "love your enemy", "turn the other cheek" and "let him who is without sin cast the first stone". Very same book, supposed to be a role model for all christians.

Muhammad on the other hand was a warlord that raided settlements of the infidels, killed the men, enslaved the women and claimed the land for himself. He executed those who refused to convert and had sex with children and women he considered spoils of war. And Allah says it's aok, as it is written in the Quran. And because the Quran is the word of god, it's still being law in regions with muslim majorities.

There's a fine line between doing nasty stuff, realizing it is bad and officially condemning it and doing said stuff for over a thousand years and continue doing it because some delousional dude said we can't have nice things.

Every civilization has ugly spots on its vest, but some learn from them while others are proud about it.

To return to the actual topic: muslims are portrayed in video games as they're perceived in real life. Guess they're not so innocent about that. And what anyone interprets into fantasy characters his business. If I wanted to, I could whine about the same stuff whenever Space Nazis or the like show up because I'm German.

But I don't for some very simple, yet plausible reason: I simply have enough commonsense to realize not fucking everything is aimed at insulting me. A valuable lesson most muslims do not seem to have learned yet.

RoonMian:

AldUK:
I really hope I don't get warned for this post, but I just have to say after reading this, that most of the stereotypes have some grounding in reality. But it's the same for everyone, no matter where you're from. Also, the muslim religion specifically states that followers should convert all non-muslims with refusal meaning death. There's no misinterpretation there, look in the Koran and you can read it for yourself. Should we really, truthfully be tolerant of a religion that wants to kill anyone who isn't a part of it?

Do the Muslims you know want to kill you if you don't become a Muslim yourself?

No, but that's besides the point. The Quran specifically says that and it's why there are more incidents of Islamic terrorism than any other religion. It's why child grooming gangs are predominately Muslim and why honour killings happen. The religion itself is inherently evil given that their main prophet was a murderer who couldn't take insults.

That's the reason why we have Muslims as enemies in games. They're more likely to be evil. I'm not saying that all Muslims are fundamentalists, by the way. Most are westernised and good people, but those are the people that don't follow the religion correctly.

Chaosritter:

Quantum Glass:
...You do realize that Christians still worship that kind of God, right? Sure he might not advocate stoning rape victims /now/, but there was certainly a period where he was cool with it. Sends children to hell, too. And the Jews still have all of the crazier Hebrew Bible laws still technically canon, but nobody minds, because they don't actually hurt anybody. See, there's this fascinating new concept we just got from the Athenians--it's called the justice system. When somebody does something bad, they're punished for their actions. Conversely, when someone doesn't do something bad, they're not punished. We're still working out the kinks, but if everything goes right, we might be able to hold people accountable for their actions. Wonderful new idea, really. Judging individuals when they do something wrong...I tell ya, those Athenians come up with the wackiest forms of government.

Uhm, what?

First of all, Jesus, the prophet of christianity/son of da man himself said stuff like "love your enemy", "turn the other cheek" and "let him who is without sin cast the first stone". Very same book, supposed to be a role model for all christians.

Muhammad on the other hand was a warlord that raided settlements of the infidels, killed the men, enslaved the women and claimed the land for himself. He executed those who refused to convert and had sex with children and women he considered spoils of war. And Allah says it's aok, as it is written in the Quran. And because the Quran is the word of god, it's still being law in regions with muslim majorities.

There's a fine line between doing nasty stuff, realizing it is bad and officially condemning it and doing said stuff for over a thousand years and continue doing it because some delousional dude said we can't have nice things.

Every civilization has ugly spots on its vest, but some learn from them while others are proud about it.

To return to the actual topic: muslims are portrayed in video games as they're perceived in real life. Guess they're not so innocent about that. And what anyone interprets into fantasy characters his business. If I wanted to, I could whine about the same stuff whenever Space Nazis or the like show up because I'm German.

But I don't for some very simple, yet plausible reason: I simply have enough commonsense to realize not fucking everything is aimed at insulting me. A valuable lesson most muslims do not seem to have learned yet.

The God of the Old Testament is very much like Muhammad, just on a bigger scale.

This may be one of the more bizarre articles that I've read in recent memory.

For starters, the author seems to be arguing that there needs to be a better representation of Arabs and Middle-Easterners, not a better representation of Muslims (hopefully not a news flash to anyone here, but not all Muslims are Middle-Eastern, and vice-versa). Islam is not an ethnicity, it's a religion.

Second, this: "The Covenant are religious radicals prosecuting a holy war under the order of a prophet, and Grunts frequently suicide bomb the player with plasma grenades"
How in the hell does that have anything to do with Islam? A sci-fi story about a fictional group of Aliens races who have banded together via some cosmic space religion and gone to war with humankind? And suicide bombing is not exclusive to radical Islamic terrorists (ie. Japanese Kamikaze bombers from WWII).

Third, Game of Thrones. It's kind of hard to argue that they're depicting the Eastern Lands as being a terrible place when they also depict Westeros as being just as bad, if not worse. Also remember that Game of Thrones is heavily based upon the War of the Roses, with Westeros representing Britain and Europe. At that time, 'the East' (ie. Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa) was viewed as being a land of barbarians, mystery, and magic.

Fourth, religion itself. In all seriousness, when was the last time you played a game, ANY game, in which you knew any character's religion, excluding fantasy games with made up religions? Honestly, I thought as hard as I could on this one, and the only one I could think of was the "Dante's Inferno", and that game pretty much needs the religious aspect to even exist. Devs are going to avoid having a character's religion be a big focus of a game because they're worried it'll alienate people or cause controversy. And hell, if you want to play a game and imagine your character as a Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, or Branch Davidian, then knock yourself out.

Fifth, complaining that the Redguard looks like a stereotypical Arab warrior from the Middle Ages is like complaining that a Nord in Heavy Armor looks like a stereotypical Middle Ages European Knight. So the Redguard come from a land whose look is modeled after the Arab World from years ago. So? Almost all fantasy sticks with certain established looks and feels from human history. That's why Skyrim's imperials have Roman-esque Armor, because they devs drew inspiration from Ancient Rome. It's why the Nords have helments with horns and drink mead, because the devs drew inspiration from the Vikings. Additionally, someone has already pointed out that the Redguard culture is actually pretty far removed from stereotypical Arab culture.

And to end it on some true bizarreness: 'These days, we spend more energy making a gun true to life than we spend on the person in its crosshairs.' This is like arguing that Uncharted should have had as many speaking parts for the various bad guys you have to kill as it did for Nathan Drake. The gun sticks with you the entire game, the guy you're about to shoot lasts about 10 seconds, the devs are not going to exhaust vast resources and time to give you background and a history lesson about every bad guy you're fighting.

I feel like Assassin's Creed: Revelations portrayed Muslims quite well.

They're pretty much depicted as normal people, which is refreshing.

RoonMian:

Do the Muslims you know want to kill you if you don't become a Muslim yourself?

nathan-dts:

No, but that's besides the point. The Quran specifically says that and it's why there are more incidents of Islamic terrorism than any other religion. It's why child grooming gangs are predominately Muslim and why honour killings happen. The religion itself is inherently evil given that their main prophet was a murderer who couldn't take insults.

I'm going to point you to this post:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/6.732086-Better-Representing-Muslims-A-Few-Ideas?page=2#19718397

And also inform you that honour killings happen all over the place, both in the Muslim world and not. Hell, all those Old Westerns? Chock full of Honour killings. We totally understand why a wife might kill her husband for cheating on her. Honour killing. The Japanese have a famous history of Honour killing- and even inflicted it upon themselves. Duels to the death over matters of honour were common in Europe. Gangs kill for "Respect."

If you are prepared to fight for your reputation, then you might perhaps understand why lots of people are prepared to die for it, or kill for it. Especially when their social standing is derived more from their association with a well-reputed group than their particular actions, which is still the case across much of the world as the scope for individual action is limited by economic and political constraints. When your social capital is the most sure-fire way to gain access to resources, you can be sure that people will kill and die for it.

Most are Westernised and good people, but those are the people that don't follow the religion correctly.

Erm.. no. Most are no Westernised. Unless you want to claim that Indonesia is somehow part of "The West." Because North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East, and West Asia certainly are not.

Ihateregistering1:

Fourth, religion itself. In all seriousness, when was the last time you played a game, ANY game, in which you knew any character's religion, excluding fantasy games with made up religions? Honestly, I thought as hard as I could on this one, and the only one I could think of was the "Dante's Inferno", and that game pretty much needs the religious aspect to even exist. Devs are going to avoid having a character's religion be a big focus of a game because they're worried it'll alienate people or cause controversy. And hell, if you want to play a game and imagine your character as a Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, or Branch Davidian, then knock yourself out.

In Mass Effect, by talking yo Ashley you find that she's a fairly devout Christian, and seems to have influenced the mild-to-moderate xenophobia she displays at times.

Therumancer:
we liberated nations like Iraq and Afghanistan

Your post was tolerable up until this point. America didn't anyone.

Da Orky Man:

Ihateregistering1:

Fourth, religion itself. In all seriousness, when was the last time you played a game, ANY game, in which you knew any character's religion, excluding fantasy games with made up religions? Honestly, I thought as hard as I could on this one, and the only one I could think of was the "Dante's Inferno", and that game pretty much needs the religious aspect to even exist. Devs are going to avoid having a character's religion be a big focus of a game because they're worried it'll alienate people or cause controversy. And hell, if you want to play a game and imagine your character as a Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, or Branch Davidian, then knock yourself out.

In Mass Effect, by talking yo Ashley you find that she's a fairly devout Christian, and seems to have influenced the mild-to-moderate xenophobia she displays at times.

Thanks for pointing that out, I didn't know that.

I'm sure they are out there, but my point is that I play a lot of video games and I really struggled to think of even one example where a character's religion is on full display (again, not including fantasy religions), and thus I think it's hard to argue that something is badly depicted in a medium when it's hardly ever depicted at all.

Da Orky Man:

Ihateregistering1:

SNIP

In Mass Effect, by talking yo Ashley you find that she's a fairly devout Christian, and seems to have influenced the mild-to-moderate xenophobia she displays at times.

(Minor gripe)

No, no you don't. You find out that she's religious (vague as to which religion, only that its mono-theistic), which is treated as entirely separate to her mild-xenophobia, which has its roots in how Ashley's grandfather was treated by the Alliance after the First Contact War. At no point is the Religiousness and the Xeno-scepticism linked. (To the best of my knowledge, the religion only comes up in one conversation, although her romance email in ME2 does mention praying.) Ashley's distrust of aliens is also treated as part of her generally cynical attitude that other people will only ever look out for themselves.

Anyway... back on topic.

To comment on some of the anti-religious themes being passed around: Yes, there are religious people out there who use their religion as a reason to do harm to other people. There are also people out there who are religious, but who are motivated by it to do good. "Christian Aid" and "Islamic Relief" both spring to mind. And there are plenty of people who are religious, keep it to themselves, don't shove it your face, and possibly aren't even that devout but just believe that there is a god and there is life after death. (Context - I come from a primarily Christian family, although I personally identify as agnostic.)

Believing in god, or life after death, or even just a vague 'something more' is not a problem. Having a set of beliefs is not a problem.

Inflicting those belief's onto other, unwilling, people is a problem. Religious extremists, like Al'qaeda or the KKK, take it way too far.

Regarding the article - more realistic characterisations, warts and all, of people from Middle Eastern cultures can only be a good thing. (More realistic characterisations in general is a good thing.) Understanding each other brings people together, for one thing, and for another: there is a wealth of character potentials in these cultures - why stick to the same tired old cliches?!

Chaosritter:

Uhm, what?

First of all, Jesus, the prophet of christianity/son of da man himself said stuff like "love your enemy", "turn the other cheek" and "let him who is without sin cast the first stone". Very same book, supposed to be a role model for all christians.

Muhammad on the other hand was a warlord that raided settlements of the infidels, killed the men, enslaved the women and claimed the land for himself. He executed those who refused to convert and had sex with children and women he considered spoils of war. And Allah says it's aok, as it is written in the Quran. And because the Quran is the word of god, it's still being law in regions with muslim majorities.

There's a fine line between doing nasty stuff, realizing it is bad and officially condemning it and doing said stuff for over a thousand years and continue doing it because some delousional dude said we can't have nice things.

Every civilization has ugly spots on its vest, but some learn from them while others are proud about it.

To return to the actual topic: muslims are portrayed in video games as they're perceived in real life. Guess they're not so innocent about that. And what anyone interprets into fantasy characters his business. If I wanted to, I could whine about the same stuff whenever Space Nazis or the like show up because I'm German.

But I don't for some very simple, yet plausible reason: I simply have enough commonsense to realize not fucking everything is aimed at insulting me. A valuable lesson most muslims do not seem to have learned yet.

...You read the cliffnotes version of the Hebrew Bible, didn't cha? I won't discuss my opinion on the whole, "Hell," business, seeing as how I'd probably insult a few people, but from what I can tell, a pretty large number of Christians believe, not only in Jesus, but also in God. Shocker, isn't it? And God was something of a delinquent in his teenage years. Smiting transpired, I'd reckon. Rape victims being punished via group ballistics, slavery being legal, et cetera. Claiming that what's written down in the books a people read defines their morals is a pretty messed up idea of morality.

"I simply have enough commonsense to realize not fucking everything is aimed at insulting me."

"You haven't been following the news in recent months, have you? In all countries of the "Arab Spring", all non-muslims must fear for their lifes. Foreigners and non-muslims get abducted, tortured, persecuted or outright executed on sight. All in the name of Allah. I could post some videos, but that'd get me insta-banned.

I know what's gonna come now: "that's only a minority, not all muslims are like that". Well, 70% of the egyptian people have voted for the people who promote exactly that. And it's not like the "good" muslims in these places fight to protect and support those who suffer from the wrath of the "bad" muslims. Guess that's saying a lot."

See, the irony is, most of the ringleaders, the propagators of violence, are--while certainly Islamic--mostly giving the west grief for political reasons. I'm not saying they're justified, but they're not doing it just because God told them to. Granted, they tell their followers that it's the holy thing to do, but if there's anything history has shown us, it's that using religion to create killers is ridiculously easy.

Is it completely and utterly evil of me that my first thought on this is that we need to arrange for a live debate between the "Portrayals of Muslims in Videogames" folk and the "Tropes vs Women in Videogames" people? Worthwhile discussions in an open and public forum.

I know... I'm a baaaaddddd man.

Zombie_Moogle:

Therumancer:
Liberals, the peace at any price movement, and humanitarians like to try and focus on individuals and put a human face on problems

A) Character writing is quite literally about focusing on an individual. Kinda missing the point here

B) You know, when you needlessly throw in your own political biases, you largely invalidate your own points, which if stated in a more rational (or "moderate" if you prefer. wink) fashion, you'd much more effectively get your point across by not clouding your own argument

Well, I don't believe in mincing words, this situation is what it is, there isn't a lot of room to dress it up. When I go off about the left wing and it's politics I do so to make a point, those who are offended because "hey I'm left wing" but might otherwise agree with the argument are kind of those I'm writing for, to get them to re-assess their priorities on these issues. For the record I am actually pretty moderate as there are issues I swing pretty far to the left on (freedom of speech, workers rights, and even what limitations should be placed on business) but those subjects rarely come up on these forums. Mostly when I go off about the left wing, it's simply because the ideal that you should be tolerant of everyone is a problem, and anything that encourages people to be intolerant is wrong, is something I feel needs to be opposed. Tolerance is a nice ideal to strive for, but at the end of the day there are some people, even large groups of them, that should not be tolerated or accepted under any circumstances. A culture like the one in The Middle East is one of those things, when you basically let a people enslave half their population... the women, and then see visiting women follow those customs to show "tolerance" and "avoid offense" that's a problem. There is no reason at all we should be tolerating a culture that does that, and that's just one aspect of the entire thing as I explained.

As far as this applies to gaming, understand that the article writer is talking about a large variety of things. A big part of his point revolves around the portrayal of Muslims as bad guys in video games, and their culture as being pretty much a bad thing even when portrayed through science fiction analogy. My counterpoint is that this is both accurate and nessicary because that is pretty much what your dealing with. If some Muslim looks in the mirror and the truth hurts, that's a good thing in the long run. This kind of stuff is not being made up and projected onto Muslims as a whole as part of some kind of racist agenda, its really what that culture is like. The point of the links I posted (and I encourage people to do their own research) is to demonstrate that. In say a FPS where your dealing with an opposing force, the portrayals are pretty accurate, and if anything don't go far enough.... and let's be honest, this is who we are fighting in real life and why, making games about the military in the present day it's not out of line to portray who it actually fights against, and why by showing the people as a group who they are. I demonstrated how these people are conditioned into fanatics, how early that starts, how much unreasoning hate they are taught for everyone not themselves, and even one video (which is hardly unique) of children being taught to engage in suicide warfare. Like it or not the whole "suicide bomber" thing isn't a negative stereotype, it's real, and conditioning kids while they are young and teaching them this kind of stuff via having their childhood mascots and heroes murdered and similar techniques is exactly how you get people willing to commit suicide to inflict damage on an enemy.

On a more individual level, when your dealing with the portrayal of Muslims as scheming bad guys, who are out to screw everyone, well understand these are people conditioned in that culture to hate anyone who isn't a Muslim. Those that aren't fighting are going to cheat you and do whatever they can to achieve whatever small victories they can. Exceptions always exist, but that is going to be the most common situation. What's more you have to remember the guys calling the shots are the ones who are producing those videos of childhood mascots being murdered, and telling the people to hate and kill everyone not like them. On some levels these guys might believe in what they are doing, but from an outside perspective they are pretty bad.

In general if you were dealing with totally self contained stories about Muslims dealing with other Muslims without outside influence coming much into the question, you'd be right if there was some effort to make things utterly demonic. This is pretty much the whole "Aladdin", "Arabian Nights" school of thought and really that works fine on it's own and generally isn't where we're having problems anyway. On a more adult level the best reference I could think of would probably be George Alec Effinger's "Marid" stories like "When Gravity Fails" which largely take place in a cyberpunked Middle East.

My point is pretty much that there is nothing at all wrong with portraying members of the Muslim culture pretty much as they are. The implication here being that the portrayal is inaccurate, when really as I demonstrated, it's not. That portrayal is grounded in reality. In general if your an outsider it's pretty much expected a Muslim is going to try and get one over on you within his own culture, to him, you are the enemy. From a military perspective, it's even less ambigious. The only reason I can see to argue against this is largely political as part of an overall agenda that might be well intended but is fairly misguided. I've done a lot of digging into it over the years, and to be blunt it's actually pretty straightforward over all. Some guy grows up listening to TV telling him everyone who is not Muslim is the enemy, he's taught Jews killed Mickey Mouse, he goes to church and hears "kill Americans" every day and the horrors of the great western satan every day, granted he might not become a warrior himself, but some westerner walks up to his spice stall to buy something, do you think he's going to want to do business fairly?

I know not everyone will agree with me, but that's my two cents (pretty much what I said before). To be honest though I will consider what you say and see if maybe I can be a little more diplomatic in the future, though to be honest I'm not really sure how you can make these kinds of points with the same strength in doing so. I mean the gist of my argument is "hey look, there is all the stuff we're talking about". My basic argument is people didn't just make stuff up so people would dislike Muslims, rather Muslims did stuff that made it so people didn't like them.

At the end of the day when Muslim culture changes (one way or another) so will perceptions. I think it will happen, but it's not going to be through denial, or not using them as bad guys in reality based FPS games that are based on what's actually going on.

Therumancer:
One helluva snip

It's amazing, because you keep presenting examples of why the points Rath raises are important. Now, my mother's side of the family are Muslim, belonging to a reasonably small Islamic sect called the Druze, and they are nothing like what you describe. They live in Lebanon, a country that has historically been invaded time and again by one of the US's closest allies, but they are fervently and fanatically pro-American. They think the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are some of the best things to ever happen to the region. And their reasons for this are based, in no small part, on their unique combination of ethnicity, religious leaning, and nationality.

I've traveled extensively in the Middle East, and opinions you run into on the ground run the gamut of, well, anything you can imagine. The Middle East, above all things, is complicated, and you're generalising one of the most diverse and divisive areas of the planet with terms like "Muslim culture". The fact is that based on your ethnicity, your sect, your nationality, and an absolute myriad of other reasons, your views on Americans, on non-Muslims, and the world in general are going to vary wildly. This is why the article is important. People like you get these ideas of what "Muslims" or "Arabs" are like, and never realise that the terms "Muslim" and "Arab" are essentially meaningless for this kind of discussion because they just cannot be broad enough to apply to the majority of people and still convey a disposition towards the rest of the world. A Muslim is simply someone that follows Islam, but one of the largest Muslim countries on the planet is Indonesia and they hardly get a mention in this kind of debate. One of the biggest perpetrators of the problems supposedly inherent to Arabic culture is Iran, where they don't even speak Arabic or belong to the Arab ethnicity.

Rath doesn't seem to be saying that there aren't problems in the world of Islam or within the North African/Middle Eastern/Central Asian parts of the world. There are. That's not on debate, and isn't even close to the point of the article. What he's talking about is this kind of blanket treatment. Large swathes of the Middle East trace their current social climate directly back to the days of tribalism, and this informs their identity. It's an incredibly complicated geographical area with people that defy the kind of labels the West has, and continues to, put on them. The kind of portrayals he advocated would be immensely helpful in helping people like yourself to understand that even within the "Non-Muslim hating, anti-American, 'burn the infidels'" group, there is an incredible spread of different attitudes and social, economic, and political reasons behind those feelings beyond their religion and their culture. That first point in the article, "Stop lumping everyone together", is critical. It's the key to understanding the Middle East. Everything there plays out on a far more micro level than anyone in the West gives them credit for.

Hence his suggestions. Understanding which tribe one of those formless terrorist groups from the Modern Warfare series belong to would go a long way to understanding their motivations. Understanding motivation, in real war, is key to winning the conflict. It's really hard to argue with Rath's point that "realism" in games only seems to go towards their portrayal of guns, rather than the way the war is actually fought.

Danny Ocean:
A great deal of understanding comes from the participation, not just the observation. For example: it's very hard for a Westerner to understand the importance family connections and social status play in the Middle East (and, actually, most of the rest of the world), until they find themselves living in that social context where it is right to make claims on family, and for your family to make claims on you.

Oh goodness, I think I'm in love. Yes, this, exactly this. It's so hard to get people to understand just how much family (and by extension, ethnicity, tribalism, etc.) means in regards to life in the Middle East. Even the word "family" makes this hard to convey. In Lebanon, if I'm talking about my "family", it seems I mean half the country. Here in Australia, it's pretty much just my mother and father and siblings, or maybe the slightly more extended family of uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents. Back in Lebanon it means talking family trees so labyrinthine and extensive that it could really only be described as a forest.

Thank you so very, very much for those posts. It's nice to see someone that actually gets how hard it is to talk about this part of the world.

Freakin' process ate my freakin' post...

Anyway, I get the feeling the article title might have been better referring to culture instead of religion (as indeed the article itself does), though I guess one of the points was that there's no real way to do that. And it's not like I disagree with anything said.

I'm honestly more concerned about my country's culture in general learning to distinguish between stereotypes and reality (though apparently, we're still better than most of Europe), but like with the sexism in society and sexism in gaming thing, they're not exclusive and zero-sum. I get the feeling if Arabs/Persians/Kurds/North Africans/Indonesians/Azeri/Chechens/etc. start receiving more honest portrayals in either general life or games, one will certainly affect the other.

RoonMian:
All right, you challenged my Google-Fu.

Quran 8:61: "And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing."

Quran 9:5: "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

And as I said, sura 9 takes precedence.

That's not really possible, since they don't contradict each other. Their contexts are very similar, and they're two different presentations; that part of Surah 8 is presented as a general moral lesson (though specifically referring to the Banu Quaraysh, sorta like the Bible presenting moral lessons using the Pharisees and Sadducees), while in Surah 9, it's referring to a specific then-upcoming event. Verses 8:58-62 are roughly saying "if you suspect your enemies will betray you, confront them about it on equal terms while preparing for war. If they betray you, God will strengthen your hand, but if they insist they want peace, trust God and be peaceful." Verses 9:3-5 are saying, in effect, "in about four months, on the day of pilgramage, is when our ceasefire with the Banu Quaraysh will dissolve. If you've got other treaties going on, though, with Pagans who've been keeping up their ends, those are still in full effect. After the dissolution, and when we get to Mecca, kick the Quaraysh's asses, unless they agree to peace and to stop being dicks."

Even if that part of Surah 8 came before (might have, though it's hard to tell, since the Quran is organized by topic, not chronology), neither can really take "precedence." I figured you'd bring up something like the rules concerning alcohol, gambling, or polygamy, since those are the easiest examples of that happening.

faefrost:
Is it completely and utterly evil of me that my first thought on this is that we need to arrange for a live debate between the "Portrayals of Muslims in Videogames" folk and the "Tropes vs Women in Videogames" people? Worthwhile discussions in an open and public forum.

I know... I'm a baaaaddddd man.

...what would they debate? I get the feeling there'd be a bit of overlap between the people will to actually argue for those topics. It might even come down to a compare-and-contrast between damaging portrayals due to fear and ignorance, due to objectification and pandering, or even tragic overlap between the two.

Therumancer:
[quote="Zombie_Moogle" post="6.732086.19718417"]

[quote="Therumancer" post="6.732086.19717526"]Liberals, the peace at any price movement, and humanitarians like to try and focus on individuals and put a human face on problems

If some Muslim looks in the mirror and the truth hurts, that's a good thing in the long run. This kind of stuff is not being made up and projected onto Muslims as a whole as part of some kind of racist agenda, its really what that culture is like.

Y'know the truth does hurt, but not for the reason you think. The truth hurts because if you and the majority of this thread is any indication my childhood paranoia is wholly justified. Roughly 95% of you people have no clue what the hell your talking about.I have never been to the Middle East I was born and raised here in the states. Religion has always been used as a justification for evil behaviour. But here is the trick it isn't the religion itself that is inherently evil, it is the bastards who misinterpret and outright twist the words to suit whatever they are trying to justify.

Anyone remember the Beatles song Helter Skelter? how that was outright twisted to justify a vile mans actions? Remember how the blame was squarely on the man and not the bible or the beatles?

Therumancer, when you mention how a child grows up hearing how every non muslim is the enemy, those are the words of whatever tyrant is in charge, twisting Islam to suite his needs. After all its easier to claim that everyone you deem the enemy is evil if god "has your back"

Anyone that says the "Culture of the Middle East" simply show just how truly ignorant of the region they are.

There is no "Culture of the Middle East" there are a myriad of cultures, practically a unique one for ever country, usually far more then that. And if you are talking about Islam, which most of you are, then know that just like every other major religion out there, their are multiple sects and extremists groups out there. While it would be bull to say that they don't influence each other, they are all different and truly unique. Also Arab does not necessarily mean Muslim, remember there is a sizable Christian population throughout the region.

FYI outside of Saudi Arabia, the women are in no way "slaves" In the past 10 years alone, more women then ever have been joining the workforce, and not necessarily the "Female accepted" jobs like secretary or teacher. More women are being given government jobs and even positions of authority. Years back it made news that women were being accepted into police academies in certain countries. Even in Saudi Arabia the restrictions on women are finally starting to loosen, and let me tell you, this isn't because they did the "proper" thing and westernise. Hell, my own aunts are a recently graduated architect and a veteran lawyer with her own practice.

I am well aware that the Middle East as a whole (though I stress you really shouldn't think of this complicated region as one whole) isn't as far along in the female rights department as say the US or Europe, but it certainly isn't the backwards cesspool of practical enslavement and biblical time mentality that depressingly many of you think it is.

The soldiers are not fighting Islam, they are fighting Al Qaeda and tyrants. they are not there to attack a religion. While it is true that many of the members of Al Qaeda will identify as Islamic, but the truth is that they are only using it as a justification for their actions, just like the crusades used Christianity, just like Manson used Helter Skelter.

A few of you in this thread ask why the muslim community doesn't try to apologize or better establish that most of us are not like the terrorists (who happen to identify as muslim) To that I only have to say this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=vIkjPwxOcdk#t=11s

Indeed why should we have to establish that we are human beings and not ignorant murderers.

And in regards to the comments about the cultures changing, there is a bloody rebellion in Syria right now with the explicit purpose of rididng themselves or a tyrant and improving the country in the long run, In Susan they successfully dethroned their tyrant. Change is happening, slow, plodding even, but it is happening.

When I was a kid, and even now, I shut myself away and stick to playing games because I am terrified of making friends. Terrified that they would have a thought process just like most of you in this thread. So yes Therumancer it does hurt to look in the mirror, it hurts knowing that so many of you are gleefully ignorant of a complicated region. it hurts knowing that most of what I type will fall on deaf ears or just be regarded as me either being an "Apologist" or indoctrinated from a young age.

For many of you there simply is no scenario where Islam isn't some form of institutionalized corruption. If just one of you will take the time to do some real research, not just look up the absolute worst that comes from the region or the religion or whatever Fox has on the T.V. Whether that means reading the Qu'ran for yourselves or looking up anthropolgy reports or whatever, then this post wasn't in vain.

Signed: an ignorant, indoctrinated, womens rights hating, xenophobic, muslim.

ArkhamJester:
[

Indeed why should we have to establish that we are human beings and not ignorant murderers.

And in regards to the comments about the cultures changing, there is a bloody rebellion in Syria right now with the explicit purpose of rididng themselves or a tyrant and improving the country in the long run, In Susan they successfully dethroned their tyrant. Change is happening, slow, plodding even, but it is happening.

When I was a kid, and even now, I shut myself away and stick to playing games because I am terrified of making friends. Terrified that they would have a thought process just like most of you in this thread. So yes Therumancer it does hurt to look in the mirror, it hurts knowing that so many of you are gleefully ignorant of a complicated region. it hurts knowing that most of what I type will fall on deaf ears or just be regarded as me either being an "Apologist" or indoctrinated from a young age.

For many of you there simply is no scenario where Islam isn't some form of institutionalized corruption. If just one of you will take the time to do some real research, not just look up the absolute worst that comes from the region or the religion or whatever Fox has on the T.V. Whether that means reading the Qu'ran for yourselves or looking up anthropolgy reports or whatever, then this post wasn't in vain.

Signed: an ignorant, indoctrinated, womens rights hating, xenophobic, muslim.

To cut to the basics here.

At the end of the day, there is one basic metaculture present through "The Middle East" deriving from very similar interpetations of the Muslim faith. There are different tribes, nations, and points of view, many of which do not get along but they are united by a lot more similarities than differences. This is why there are so many calls for "Jihad" to put aside those differences and attack those that the overwhelming majority of the people in the region believe are the enemy. It's also why Bin Ladin was willing to surrender early on but only if he could be tried in a Muslim country under Islamic law, and why despite a huge amount of fighting when it came to facing the US and it's allies during "Desert Storm" Saddam was able to hide military forces in Iran to prevent them from being destroyed.

Understand that there are exceptions, and you might even one of them, but we're talking about the big picture not individual exceptions that defy the trends. What's more, I myself pointed out that there isn't generally that big a problem with Islamics that happen to be born and raised apart from that culture.

Incidently, your also dealing with the opposite of ignorance, since I myself demonstrated the truth by showing what is going on in the region. The source not being one network, program, or fringe videos distributed by some underground video house, but what passes for public education in the region. Sure there might be progressives in the region, but they represent a tiny minority.

Things like Al Queda are simply the violent arm of the problem, the active fighters. The problem is that they are a symptom of the bigger problem. If Al Queda is defeated as long as the central metaculture of the region continues more groups of the same sort will just appear to replace them, as the entire metaculture of the region is designed to produce it.

What's more, I do not put much credence in someone pulling the "I'm a Muslim and I'm okay" card as that's pretty much what you'd expect. It's possible that you are one of the progressives and yourself do not see the problems and believe what you are saying. It's also possible that it's a carefully considered argument because such arguments are a very effective way to undermine sentiment in the US since it's what people actually want to believe. I look back at cases where we've had progressive seeming professors at universities here in the US secretly running information hubs for terrorism. Sensible, peaceful arguments on one hand, makes you want to sympathize, but then look behind the curtain and... ooops. Trust me, when I say I've put a lot of thought into my positions and spent a lot of time examining the facts across a wide range of points of view, which is in part why it was so easy for me to provide a few links reinforcing my points right off the cuff.

Also, if you read what I said you'd notice that I mentioned very specifically that the Qua'ran is no worse than any other religious text, and that Islam could be practiced peacefully and in cohabitation with other societies, and indeed is for a number of people. That is however not the case with the metaculture dominating the Middle East which represents the core of the problems that are being dealt with.

What's more you mention Syria, but understand that this is not a war to overthrow a tyrant, it's actually a war between two religious factions... the Sunnis and the Shiites going at it once again. The sides are defined largely by religion and both sides want their faith to dominate. We already saw what happened here with Iraq, where instead of being progressive the first thing a Shiite majority did was ensure in their new constitution that they were going to be an Islamic state, as opposed to separating the church and state and making way for more progressive laws and reforms.

I'm one of those people who actually thinks we should stay out of Syria other than to prevent the Russians from selling/installing weapon systems there. After all whoever takes over is going to be bad news, and keeping Syria vulnerable in case we, or Isreal, have to go in is in our best interests. Other than that, as far as I'm concerned
they are welcome to blow each other to pieces as much as they want.

As jaded as that sounds, understand that we already trusted several groups in the region and it generally backfires. We pretty much built up Saddam to be a progressive influence in the region and stand off Iran so we wouldn't have to get involved directly. Pretty much letting Muslims deal with other Muslims and dealing with what were supposed to be progressive factions to help reform the region... that ended beautifully, largely because Saddam decided he could get a better deal from Russian patronage and they would let him go a-conquering which was pretty much what he really wanted to begin with. When it comes to Afghanistan... again, our mess, we trusted these "Taliban Freedom Fighters" (yes I remember when I was a kid they were portrayed as the good guys) who proceeded to create an even more horrorific regime than the one the Russians were allied with. Despite pretty much giving these guys their country, they backed Bin Ladin and refused to give him to us when we tried to go through diplomatic channels since by rights The Taliban should have
been our allies in the region.... the bottom line here being that every time we trust a "progressive faction" in the region we wind up making a bigger mess because we simply don't want to accept how much of a xenocidal mess the region is. The only time anyone seems interested in being progressive is as a buzzword when they are trying to get US support. As a result I have no interest in getting involved in Syria (at least not the way being discussed) because even if the rebels we back win, they are going to be tomorrow's bad guys following the typical pattern. We WANT to believe that there are heroic, progressive, freedom fighters in the region, fighting against a radical minority, but that isn't really the truth, and which has a lot to do with our failures in the region.

That said, we're not going to agree. You think I'm wrong, I think your wrong. Ultimatly time will tell.

Also don't get me wrong, I actually kind of wish you were right, but from everything I've seen, researched, and run into, I do not think you are.

-

On a side note, while I mentioned it in passing, and it has little to do with any of this, Manson's dogma was largely reactionary to the "Black Muslim" faith and their belief in a great uprising against white people who were created by the sorcerer/scientist Yakub to enslave them. I made a reference to the Wikipedia page on that which does an okay, if not perfect job of handling it. The thing is though that none of the mainstream Muslim faiths in The Middle East seem to acknowledge Yakub (or didn't) which is why I mentioned it as a side point about a non-Middle Eastern group that represents a problem... alongside those Muslims who are divorced from the regional metaculture and manage to live alongside others peacefully without their faith ever coming up (I myself have pointed out they do exist, but are globally speaking a tiny minority when it comes to the genuine ones as opposed to those playing that card to hide in other societies).

Strictly speaking while The Beatles couldn't be blamed for what Manson did, arguably Black Muslims could be, as his insanity seemed to largely be reactionary to those calls for a race war, along with Manson's belief that whites were doomed to near extinction, and that extreme measures were the only way to ensure we'd ever survive or come back to anything resembling a civilization... or at least that is my understanding of it. In Manson's Dogma "Helter Skelter" which he just took from the song (for whatever reason) is what he called that apocalyptic war/uprising in which most whites were going to be killed. It has very little to do with the song which is about a slide at a playground if I remember correctly. :)

ArkhamJester:
The soldiers are not fighting Islam, they are fighting Al Qaeda and tyrants. they are not there to attack a religion. While it is true that many of the members of Al Qaeda will identify as Islamic, but the truth is that they are only using it as a justification for their actions, just like the crusades used Christianity, just like Manson used Helter Skelter.

What's more, it's a demonstrably, ludicrously poor justification. Most of their targets and the majority of their victims are Muslims of every stripe, and that's not a bug, it's a feature. With Al Qaeda and other groups practicing takfir, you could easily say that they're the ones fighting Islam. After all, when the clerics[1] gathered in Jordan and issued a statement saying in part "we represent every legal and mystical school of thought in Islam today, and we say that anyone who thinks they can randomly declare someone to be not a 'true' Muslim is talking out of their asses," the response from Global Jihadist groups was basically "oh yeah, well you're all heretics too!"

I'm not a Muslim, myself, so I can't match your feeling exactly...but speaking as someone going into international security-related fields as a career, I think I can come close. I'm not in a position to feel personal insult, but I do feel frustration over the kind of willful, toxic ignorance it takes to not only lump a massive group of incredibly disparate people and cultures together under a single heading against actual evidence, and to not only then assign them every atrociously negative quality they hear about (regardless of source), but to allow that drown out anything they learn to the contrary. The kind of ignorance it would take to read something like this and dismiss it implying nothing at all, like some twisted inversion of "some of my best friends are black." Ignorance that's not just wrong, but actively harmful.

In other words, I feel ya, dude. Though I guess I'm just a college-educated librul (who reads Reza Aslan, of all people), so what do I know, huh?

[1] Not that there aren't also problems with the ulama, I realize.

Ah a religious article, great.

Muslims get a tough wrap, it really is a shame to judge a whole religious nation of people, especially when its made up of so many different races and creeds. The question we must really ask ourselves is why are they portrayed as violent sociopaths at any given opportunity in the media. Even in the news?

I mean everyone remembers the death of an American ambassador in Libya, but did anyone hear about the little reported incident after when all the locals decided enough was enough and chased the extremists thought responsible from the area. It was so little reported on that i cant even find an article regarding the incident.

If you ask me its one massive smear campaign so people arent horrified by western sponsored atrocities in the middle east.

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