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

This isn’t the first time something like this has happened

A tank Zombie with a machine gun stands by a burning windmill in Call of Duty: Vanguard
The popular Zombies multiplayer mode in Call of Duty: Vanguard.
Image: Sledgehammer Games, Treyarch/Activision

Activision has apologized for a design choice on a Call of Duty: Vanguard Zombies map that apparently scattered pages of the Koran across a floor and spattered them with blood. The content, which stoked a furious response on social media earlier this week, has already been removed from the game, Activision said.

In a series of screenshots posted to Twitter, pages can be seen torn out and strewn over an unknown location in the Zombies map. Seen up close through a sniper’s scope, they show writing in Arabic script.

Activision didn’t describe the pages in its apology but did acknowledge “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,” the company said in a statement provided to Polygon and other media outlets. “We deeply apologize. We are taking immediate steps internally to address the situation to prevent such occurrences in the future.”

Call of Duty: Vanguard’s Zombies mode is developed by Treyarch; the game’s campaign and standard multiplayer was handled by Sledgehammer Games. An Activision representative declined to give additional comment on the incident or why Treyarch decided to illustrate a Zombies map in this way.

In 2012, Activision removed the Favela map from the Infinity Ward-developed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (published three years earlier) after players noticed that paintings hung in the bathroom of one of the game’s maps contained a quote from the Prophet Muhammad: “Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty.” Activision apologized and returned the map to the game with the offending content removed.

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