The son of a former MP Hamdy Al-Fakhrany was found to have hung himself at his home on April 2, an incident which provoked a wave of controversy as the individual was known to have been very religious.
The 18-year old Khaled Alfakhrany’s suicide case has been linked to a deadly internet game created by by the Russian Philipp Budeikin entitled The Blue Whale, also known as “A Silent House,” “A Sea of Whales,” and “Wake me up at 4:20am.”
The game, which gained popularity in 2016, targets mainly teenagers assigning them to do series of tasks by administrators over a 50-day period with the final challenge asking the player to commit suicide.
The game starts with simple tasks in the beginning, and then gradually it asks the user to self-harm and at the end of the period the user is asked to kill himself or someone of his family.
“The blue whale game is the main reason behind my brother’s suicide, we saw things in his belonging inside the room, a blue whale sign, commands to watch terror movies at midnight, to listen to strange music, and we found the lyrics of this music written down on paper and he threw them in the garbage basket,” Khaled’s sister Yasmeen El-Fakharany said on her Facebook page.
Khaled’s incidents is not the first of its kind in Egypt: in January, a 32-year-old mentally ill man killed his father to fulfil one of the challenges of the game.
Khaled’s other sister, TV presenter Abeer El-Fakharany, said: “At first, I did not believe it that could be true, especially because my brother was a devout boy committed to his prayers and reading the holy Quran. But what I knew from similar suicides cases is that all the victims were known for being respectful and optimistic, especially the case of a 16-year-old female teenager who committed suicide in Tanta city by throwing herself out of the fifth floor.”
She said that she found on her brother’s desk some incomprehensible words and very long songs in English about death and outsiders, as if he had memorized them by heart. But she refused to post them on Facebook to avoid harm.
Budeikin was arrested in 2017 accused of inciting at least 16 schoolgirls to commit suicide by taking part in the game. The 21-year-old, who studied psychology, confessed to the crimes saying that he considers his victims as “biological waste” who were “happy to die” and that he was “cleansing society.”
Since the release of the app several cases of suicide were reported across the world and were linked in some way to the game.
Egyptian investigators attributed the suicide to a physiological disorder because he was frustrated over his father’s arrest. The former parliament member Hamdy Al-Fakhrany was accused of corruption and inciting chaos during former president Mohamed Morsi’s rule.
Earlier this week Member of Parliament Sherif al-Wardani, who is also the secretary of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, submitted an urgent request calling upon the Minister of Communications and Information Technology to take action against the recent spread of “dangerous electronic games.”
While Egypt’s religious and governmental body Dar Al-Iftaa posted a YouTube video on their official page declaring the Blue Whale video game as forbidden in Islam by saying that it has many elements that make it religiously forbidden.
The Dar Al-Iftaa representative explained that the game gives the player several choices in how to commit suicide, either by hanging, stabbing with a knife, or jumping from a window.
The alternative to suicide is to kill one of the player’s family members.
“The game threatens the player with exposure of personal secrets if they do not follow the requests of the game, ” explained the Dar Al-Iftaa video.