You’ve probably heard that Sony just issued a world-wide recall of LittleBigPlanet because some Muslims might be offended by part of the soundtrack. The soundbytes reference a couple of lines from the Qur’an (Koran).

Having seen a translation of the two, which are “Every soul shall have the taste of death” and “All that is on earth will perish”, I have to say this isn’t exactly the cheeriest material to use in a video game. Then again, the original is in Arabic, and quite likely, no one at Sony thought to get it translated.

Anyway, despite Media Molecule (the developer) coming up with a new disk image and a patch, Sony decided to issue the recall. Only now, Sony is hearing it from the other side.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., president of the non-profit American Islamic Forum for Democracy, has come out and said Sony was wrong to issue the recall. He views this as a matter of free speech. While Mr. Jasser doesn’t condone the usage, he also believes it shouldn’t be censored.

The original complaint alleged that Muslims consider mixing music and words from the Qur’an offensive. Yet the soundbytes in question were taken from a song recorded by a Muslim artist.

I could understand it better if the protest was against using religious material (however unknowingly) in a videogame that has nothing to do with religion. For all that, I think Sony overreacted by issuing the recall.

Their excuse for doing so was that “not everyone is online and would have access to a patch”. Maybe not. But these days, even if someone isn’t online, it’s likely that person knows someone who is.

For all that, the real reason is more likely that, because it has a strong presence in the Mideast, Sony would rather go overboard than offend their customer base in any way.

The question that naturally arises is: would this be likely to happen if words and music were used from some other religion? Have any other games, to your knowledge, used words and/or music from another religion – particularly scripture – as part of a soundtrack?

And what do you think: was Sony right to do the recall? I don’t. They could just have easily apologized, issued the new disks and a patch, and let it go at that.

Original LBP Recall on Gamasutra

AIFD Condemns LBP Recall on Edge-online