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Friday, October 17, 2008

Sony submits to Islam

From VentureBeat:
Sony has been touting LittleBigPlanet as one of its biggest holiday release titles. But the company announced it would delay the worldwide launch, which had been scheduled for Oct. 24, because one of the background music tracks in the game might be offensive to Muslims.

The company’s European games division put out a statement that said that the music, licensed from a record label, has “two expressions that can be found in the Qur’an.” It also apologizes for any offense. I’ve actually got a finished copy of the game and so it’s clear that Sony had already been moving ahead with manufacturing of disks for the launch. Now it will have to create new disks without the music.

That’s a big setback for Sony. game promises to be a mass market hit because of its appeal to both hardcore gamers. It isn’t clear when the new disks will be ready for launch. The game has a very high rank on GameRankings.com, which aggregates review scores, of 94.5 percent. It is the highest ranked recent game on the list.

The song in question can be downloaded from iTunes, as it is freely available and was sung by a devout Muslim. Although it has been out for a while, it had never been criticized before.


The original letter complaining to Sony about these lyrics can be found here:
To: Sony Computer Entertainment & Media Molecule

While playing your latest game, "LittleBigPlanet" in the first level of the third world in the game (titled "Swinging Safari"), I have noticed something strange in the lyrics of the music track of the level. When I listened carefully, I was surprised to hear some very familiar Arabic words from the Quran. You can listen to part of the track here:

http://mt14.quickshareit.com/share/preview/soundclip22503c0.wav

The words are:

1- In the 18th second: "كل نفس ذائقة الموت" ("kollo nafsin tha'iqatol mawt", literally: 'Every soul shall have the taste of death').

2- Almost immediately after, in the 27th second: "كل من عليها فان" ("kollo man alaiha fan", literally: 'All that is on earth will perish').

I asked many of my friends online and offline and they heard the exact same thing that I heard easily when I played that part of the track. Certain Arabic hardcore gaming forums are already discussing this, so we decided to take action by emailing you before this spreads to mainstream attention.

We Muslims consider the mixing of music and words from our Holy Quran deeply offending. We hope you would remove that track from the game immediately via an online update, and make sure that all future shipments of the game disk do not contain it.

We would also like to mention that this isn't the first time something like this happened in videogames. Nintendo's 1998 hit "Zelda: Ocarina of Time" contained a musical track with islamic phrases, but it was removed in later shipments of the game after Nintendo was contacted by Muslim organizations. Last year, Capcom's "Zack & Wiki" and Activision's "Call of Duty 4" also contained objectionable material offensive to Muslims that was spotted before the release of the final games, and both companies thankfully removed the content.
It is remarkable that the gaming industry, which has no concerns about offending anyone else with ultra-violent and sexual scenes in its games, is suddenly so sensitive to one segment of the population.

Would lyrics that are offensive to Jews or Christians or Hindus (or blondes, disabled people, the French or any other group you can name) have caused Sony to pull a highly-anticipated and fully ready game from release? I doubt it highly.

So why is Sony so uniquely sensitive to Muslim sensibilities? The unstated reason is obvious: because none of the other groups have a history of threatening the lives of those who offend them.

Islam has managed to force the world to submit to its dictates because a significant number of its adherents firmly believe that those who hurt their feelings must be killed.