Call of Duty is a globally popular franchise that has a long history of portraying Muslim-majority countries in an unflattering light. The series latest entry, Call of Duty: Vanguard, drew criticism from a number of Muslim players after a YouTuber spotted that a location in its zombie campaign had pages of the Quran strewn on the floor. As of this morning, the official Arabic-language Twitter account for Call of Duty posted an apology and noted that the offending content has been removed from the game.
This translation is taken from Dexerto:
Call of Duty is made for everyone. 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-game. We deeply apologise. We are taking immediate steps internally to address the situation to prevent such occurrences in the future.
Here are screenshots from the campaign before the update:
يا اخوان انا اشوف صفحات من القران في الارض في خريطة Zombie ارى انه يجب ان تزال باسرع وقت اذا كانت صحيحة @playstationsa @CallofdutyARA#Vanguard #PS5Share, #CallofDutyVanguard pic.twitter.com/1WZLsMYbML
— ᴮᴷᵀᴼᴼᴿ (@BKTO0R) November 10, 2021
The screenshots were taken during the Der Anfang campaign, which sees players shooting zombie-fied soldiers of various nationalities. This particular location is set in Stalingrad during World War II, though players also travel to France and Imperial Japan at certain points in the campaign. Regardless of context, some Muslim players and developers were displeased to see that the game’s environmental artists had placed pages of the Quran haphazardly on a dirty floor, where players could step on them or shoot them.
Could we -please- just not put text from the Quran on the ground or on places people where people can walk on it. Even if you think religion is nonsense, there's just no reason to be disrespectful towards two billion people's culture & beliefs in a videogame for a throwaway asset https://t.co/a1fzv8EVwN
— Rami Ismail (رامي) (@tha_rami) November 10, 2021
Call of Duty has pages of the Qur'an on the floor for people to step on.
I usually make excuses for people whenever they make a mistake, but this one feels intentional. I really hope that I'm wrong.
Either way, this has to be corrected. It's shameful and embarrassing. https://t.co/RimPRtSePI
— Osama Dorias (@osamadorias) November 10, 2021
One game designer noted that a more culturally diverse team could have ensured that the content never made it into the game to begin with.
Sometimes the whole point of a diverse team isn’t just for gender balance, sometimes it’s at least one person pointing out hey maybe putting an entire cultures holy scriptures onto the floor to be stepped as you kill people is super insensitive? Leave the Quran out of it ffs https://t.co/9sfY5iUiwy
— Anisa Sanusi (@studioanisa) November 11, 2021
While many were relieved to see the Quran pages removed, some developers felt that the apology should have been sent out on Call of Duty’s other social media accounts as well. By limiting the apology to the Arabic account, the message wasn’t spread as widely, which could be seen as an effort to avoid acknowledging the error in other markets.
He’s is right. I’m happy they acted quickly to remove the assets. But the apology shouldn’t just be on the Middle East’s page. This insulted Muslims across the globe. @CallofDuty @SHGames @Activision should apologize globally and own up to their mistake on their main accounts. https://t.co/1sY3PGHhzT
— Nuha ???? نهى (@nuhanotnoah) November 11, 2021
At the time of publication, neither the development studio nor the publisher has acknowledged the issue on their English-language social media.