The United States’ largest Muslim advocacy organization has called on Microsoft, Sony, and Valve to deplatform the forthcoming Six Days in Fallujah, a first-person shooter recreating the American military’s offensive in the Iraqi city almost 17 years ago.
In a statement published Wednesday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called Six Days in Fallujah an “Arab murder simulator” that “glorifies violence that took the lives of over 800 Iraqi civilians, justifies the illegal invasion of Iraq, and reinforces Islamophobic narratives.”
Six Days in Fallujah is set in November 2004, at the height of the second battle to retake the city from insurgent forces. The game was originally proposed in 2009 by Atomic Games, to be published by Konami, but immediate and widespread condemnation of the work led to Konami shelving the project.
Atomic went bankrupt in 2011, but the studio’s former president, Peter Tamte, reconstituted the project under a new publishing company, Victura, created in 2016. Victura in February announced that Highwire Games was developing Six Days in Fallujah, to be launched later this year.
CAIR’s statement is notable in that Victura has not announced a release window or even all the platforms where it intends to publish Six Days in Fallujah. The company said it has planned versions for PC and unspecified consoles.
Polygon has reached out to representatives of Victura, Sony, Microsoft, Steam marketplace owner Valve, and the Entertainment Software Association for reaction and additional comment on CAIR’s statement.
CAIR went on to voice broader concerns with the treatment of Muslims in video games. “The gaming industry must stop dehumanizing Muslims,” said Huzaifa Shahbaz, CAIR’s research and advocacy coordinator. “Video games like Six Days in Fallujah only serve to glorify violence that took the lives of hundreds of Iraqi civilians, justify the Iraq war, and reinforce anti-Muslim sentiment at a time when anti-Muslim bigotry continues to threaten human life.”
The organization also referenced the American military’s use of white phosphorus, an incendiary compound with certain military applications prohibited by international law, and a 2019 study that concluded that children born in Iraq since the fighting have had “gruesome birth defects connected with the ongoing American military presence there.” That study specifically mentions the presence of thorium-234, a radioactive element left over from the depleted uranium used in some American munitions.
In an interview with Polygon this February, Tamte said players of Six Days in Fallujah would not come away from the game “confused about the cost [of war],” but didn’t say it would specifically address any of the ongoing problems tied to the 2004 operations.
“Perhaps playing the game will make them curious and they’ll want to learn more about all the things that have happened in Fallujah since the 2004 battle, and that will lead them to their own conclusions from doing the research,” Tamte said. “But right now, simply ignoring the battle is not going to cause them to think about all of its consequences.”
The Second Battle of Fallujah took place from Nov. 7 to Dec. 23, 2004. It was an effort by American forces to retake the city from insurgent forces under the terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Ninety-five U.S. soldiers were killed; 1,200 to 1,500 insurgents were killed, and the International Red Cross estimated that 800 Iraqi civilians died in the fighting. Most of these casualties occurred during the operation’s first week, when the video game is set.
Tamte has said Six Days in Fallujah will attempt to recreate the confusion, uncertainty, and fear American troops faced in the operation’s house-to-house urban fighting. A parallel storyline, built from interviews with Iraqi civilians who lived through the fighting, will follow a noncombatant father as he tries to lead his family to safety.