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Arab heroes take on zealots on FB

india Updated: Jul 15, 2011 12:33 IST

IANS
Highlight Story

A computer game with Arab super heroes has been launched on Facebook. The creator hopes to create a positive image for children who could be enticed by extremist views.

Suleiman Bakhit designed the Happy Oasis game that has already attracted 50,000 followers, BBC reported.

Bakhit - who hails from Jordan - was a student at the US University of Minnesota when the 9/11 attacks took place.

In the aftermath of the terror attack, he was assaulted by four men because he was an Arab.

However, instead of feeling bitter, Bakhit decided to engage in an educational campaign.

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

Bakhit began telling "Aladdin-style" stories in local schools in Minnesota.

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

Bakhit then began a comic-book project that 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, 300,000 copies of Bakhit's comics have been sold.

He then came to realise that there was also a market for a web-based version.

"Print media is dying but there are 30 million Arabs on Facebook so I thought about making social games with the same message," he said.

Bakhit said he was undecided about whether to include a character dressed in a burqa until he showed the animated character to a focus group.

"They loved the idea, so she was in," he said.

Bakhit hopes to take his comic book model to Pakistan, where extremism is a growing problem.