A 26-year-old Saudi gamer says his PlayStation Network account was locked for using the word Jihad — which also happens to be his first name. Jihad Al Mofadda, whose story shot to the front page of Reddit yesterday, said that Sony banned his account on June 7. At first, PlayStation customer support offered to switch his PSN name to something else. Then, he says, after a few days of silence, a different representative reviewed the ticket and decided to ban the account entirely, preventing Al Mofadda from accessing his stats, trophies and all of the digital games he's purchased. After his story exploded, Al Mofadda was able to get in touch with a Sony representative again, but he was unable to keep his original handle.
Although the word "Jihad" is most often associated with Islamic terrorism these days, its definition is complex and nuanced, and it has been used in various contexts throughout the history of Islam.
In an email to Kotaku, Al Mofadda said he's had the account iJihaD since 2008 or 2009. "It's really weird," he said. "Not sure why the inconsistency in solving gamers' issues. They seem to cherrypick whom to offer a solution and whom to revoke it." Al Mofadda also provided Kotaku with a photo of his passport and copies of his email exchanges with PlayStation customer support.
One email from a Sony representative read as follows: "As stated in our previous email, we have to consider the network as a whole and we need to take every ones feelings into account. I can appreciate that your name has many meanings but it has one meaning that a lot of users find offensive and there for, when a report was submitted the decision to ban your account was taken."
After speaking with us and other news outlets, Al Mofadda said Sony again contacted him as a result of all this publicity, this time offering to let him switch handles. "Unfortunately, they will force me to change the name, losing trophies and friends but keeping purchases," Al Mofadda told me in an email. "As they still can't accept my name. I wish it was a nicer solution. Especially since their renaming system does a lot of harm on a persons account."
Sony had not yet returned a request for comment at time of writing. PSN still won't let you change your account name.