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Zafer Tourism: Video game about attacking refugees in Turkey provokes outcry

The game sees players firing asylum seekers from a catapult onto trucks to be deported from Turkey
A still from the game with the tagline 'Guard the flag don't let them invade your country' (Gacrux Game Studio)

A video game hosted on Google Play Store in which players attack refugees at the Turkish-Syria border has been condemned as "racist" by Syrians.

The game, Zafer Tourism, has a name similar to a campaign launched by Umit Ozdag's far-right "Zafer Party," or Victory party in English, to raise funds to deport Syrians.

The game's Turkish developer, Gacrux Game Studio, denied any links to Ozdag. 

"Protect your borders. Don't let them pass. Focus on the target and launch. Leave the rest to the trucks," reads the game's summary on the Google Play Store. The aim of the game involves using a catapult to launch refugees attempting to enter Turkey onto trucks.

Although many of the reviews left on the game's store page were positive, other comments condemned the game as racist or "sick".

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Middle East Eye contacted Google for comment on the game and asked whether they would continue to host it, but received no response at time of publication.

However, Syrian journalist Hussam Hammoud tweeted about the game and received a response on the platform:

Gacrux Game Studio told MEE in an email that there was no racist intent behind the game.

"Our game has nothing to do with Umit Ozdag. There are mechanics such as killing people in many games. You can see that by looking at popular games," they said, adding that the game title was just a "play on the name".

Gacrux said that if you looked at their other games, it was clear that none of them encouraged "racism, discrimination or crime".

"We think that some of these reactions are due to the word 'refugee' in the pictures on the game's store page. We will remove this post and repost it," they added.

Anti-refugee sentiment

Although the game was apparently uploaded to the platform in September, it has attracted controversy again during the Turkish election season as the question of Syrian refugees - who number more than three million in Turkey - became a central topic of political debate.

Ozdag, an anti-refugee advocate, announced earlier on Wednesday that he will back opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu in the upcoming presidential run-off on Sunday. 

Turkey elections: Politicians vow to send Syrians back - but to where?
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He said he and Kilicdaroglu agreed to send refugees back to their home countries within a year as part of their alliance. 

Neither Kilicdaroglu nor incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were able to secure more than 50 percent in the first round of presidential elections on 14 May, forcing a second round. 

Kilicdaroglu received 44.96 percent of the votes, while Erdogan secured 49.4 percent, 0.6 percent short of an outright victory. Independent candidate Sinan Ogan - who has made repatriation of refugees a key fixture of his political platform - received 5.17 percent.

Kilicdaroglu has stepped up his nationalist rhetoric ahead of the run-off vote, promising to expel "10 million" migrants from the country if elected, while Erdogan has said his government has a plan to allow one million Syrian to return.

On Monday, Ogan announced he would be throwing his weight behind Erdogan for the second round of the presidential elections. Ogan said he'd been given a timeframe for refugee returns.

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