Page last updated at 13:11 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 14:11 UK

Game delayed over Koran phrases

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Game developers said they did not want to cause any offence.

Sony has postponed the global release of a much-anticipated video game due to concerns that it may offend Muslims.

Copies of LittleBigPlanet are being recalled from shops worldwide after it emerged that a background music track contained two phrases from the Koran.

Sony issued an apology for any offence that its use of the backing track might have caused.

The changed version of LittleBigPlanet will now go on sale on 3 November in the UK and 29 October in the US.

Trial judge

A statement on the LittleBigPlanet website said: "We're sure that most of you have heard by now that one of the background music tracks that was licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Koran.

"We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologise for any offence this may have caused."

Speaking to the BBC LittleBigPlanet creators Media Molecule said it was alerted to the problem by a Muslim gamer who had been playing a beta, or trial, version of the game.

The music in question comes from Grammy award-winning artist Toumani Diabate from Mali and is known to have been available through online music stores for months.

In an e-mail the gamer who spotted the Koranic phrases warned that mixing music and words from Islam's most holy text could be considered deeply offensive by Muslims. He suggested producing a software patch to remove the music.

Media Molecule said it did produce a patch but, following consultation with Sony, decided to go further.

...this is obviously a blow to Sony on the eve of what was expected to be a triumphant release of LittleBigPlanet.
Darren Waters
BBC technology editor

"We decided to do a global recall to ensure that there was no possible way anyone may be offended by the music in the game," said a Sony spokesman.

"A new version of the game without the music has been produced and will be released shortly so that anyone anywhere in the world can enjoy LittleBigPlanet," he added.

In June 2007, Sony apologised to the Church of England after setting scenes in a violent video game inside Manchester Cathedral. On that occasion the game was not withdrawn.

LittleBigPlanet has been described as a game about making games.

It lets gamers build their own playground levels and then swap them with other players over the PlayStation Network.

Everything that can be seen in LittleBigPlanet can also be created by gamers - from textures, characters, to objects and levels.

Manzoor Moghal, of the Muslim Forum think-tank, explained that words from the Koran should not be set to music because the words are seen to have come directly from God.

He added: "We must compliment Sony for taking decisive action by withdrawing these games immediately, and releasing a version that is not offensive to Muslims."

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