Social media game aims to end extremism

Published: 15 July 2011 y., Friday

A social media game with Arab super heroes at its heart has been launched on Facebook. The man behind the project, Suleiman Bakhit, hopes that Happy Oasis can create positive role models for children who might otherwise be enticed by extremist views.

Mr Bakhit, who comes from Jordan, was a student at the US University of Minnesota when the 9/11 attacks took place. Shortly afterwards he was attacked by four men because he was an Arab.

Instead of feeling bitter, Mr Bakhit decided to engage in an education campaign.

"I realised that you fight extremism by starting with the young. The message was simple - 'We are not all terrorists'," he told.

Armed with a not-so-magic carpet, he began telling Aladdin-style stories in local schools.

"One day a child asked me if there was an Arab superman and I realised that there wasn't," he said.

So began his comic-book project which aimed to create a range of positive Arab role-models, including a female James Bond and a Jordanian special agent who fights extremists.

In Jordan, Mr Bakhit has sold 300,000 copies of his comics and came to realise that there was a market for a web-based version. Mr Bakhit wanted to make sure that his characters related to the children he was aiming to reach. "I took a peer-to-peer approach, engaging kids to get their ideas," he said.

The first game featured special agent Element O and while it was, in Mr Bakhit's words "not very good", it did show him the potential of such a project.

"Fans were discussing the games in the forums and arguing about politics. I went on as Element O and the arguments immediately stopped," he said.

The game launched this week and has already attracted 50,000 followers.

Šaltinis: BBC
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