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Activision apologizes for ‘insensitive’ depiction of Koran in latest Call of Duty game

November 11, 2021, 5:30 PM UTC

Activision is under fire for its latest Call of Duty game, which featured a scene that allowed players to walk over pages of the Koran—and, in some screenshots, showed those pages smeared with blood.

The Koran (which is also spelled Quran and Qur’an) is the holy book of Islam. Activision says the material has been removed from the game and should never have been included in the way it was.

Call of Duty is made for everyone,” the company said in a statement to Fortune. “There was insensitive content to the Muslim community mistakenly included last week and has since been removed from the game. It should never have appeared as it did in the game. We deeply apologize. We are taking immediate steps internally to address the situation to prevent such occurrences in the future.”

The Koran pages appeared in a Call of Duty: Vanguard campaign that tasks players to shoot zombie soldiers of various nationalities in World War II Stalingrad, as well as France and Imperial Japan.

The in-game treatment of the Koran came to light via social media, where a user posted screenshots on Wednesday and said, “Brothers, I see pages of the Qur’an on the ground in the zombie map. I see that it should be removed as soon as possible if it is correct.” Many Muslims retweeted the comment, and even game developers from other studios were quick to support his objections.

This is not the first time Activision and Call of Duty have offended Muslims. In 2012, the game studio removed a multiplayer map from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 after players noticed Allah’s name had been written in a bathroom mirror. The company, at the time, said, “There was no intent to offend.” And the series also has featured Muslim villains in the past.

The uproar comes at the same time Activision is in the midst of a sexual discrimination lawsuit. In July, Activision was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing following a two-year investigation, which alleged the company fostered a “frat-boy” culture that led to widespread gender-based discrimination and harassment, and named several high-level executives. The company also has been the subject of multiple federal investigations from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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