An influential Islamic group branded an online video game depicting religious figures fighting each other as offensive to Muslims and Christians and successfully demanded Tuesday that it be taken offline.
In the game Faith Fighter, caricatures of Jesus, the Prophet Muhammad, Buddha, God and the Hindu god Ganesh fight each other against a backdrop of burning buildings. God attacks with bolts of lighting and pillars of fire while the turbaned Muhammad can summon a burning black meteorite.
The Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference, which represents most Muslim nations, said it should be removed from the Internet.
"The computer game was incendiary in its content and offensive to Muslims and Christians. ... The game would serve no other purpose than to incite intolerance," an OIC statement said.
Game designer Molleindustria told the Associated Press the game, which had been around for more than a year and played millions of times, was misunderstood, but had been removed.
"This was meant to be a game against intolerance and against the one-way Islamophobic satire of the Danish Muhammad cartoons," Molleindustria said in an e-mail message. "So if a respectable organization didn't understand the irony and the message, we failed."
Islamic law generally opposes physical depictions of the prophet.
When a Danish newspaper in 2005 printed 12 cartoons showing negative portrayals of Muhammad, Muslims around the world were enraged. Deadly protests erupted from Morocco to Indonesia, with rioters torching Danish and other Western diplomatic missions. Some Muslim countries boycotted Danish products.
The style of the game, with characters jumping, kicking and knocking each other out, mimics the martial arts arcade games popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
Though the game had been around for a while, the OIC was responding to an article in the online British publication Metro UK, which stated the game had offended religious groups.
"We suspect that people at OIC never played carefully the game and only referred to the article on Metro UK that successfully manufactured this controversy," said Molleindustria.
In a statement on its website, where the game can be found, Molleindustria said the intention was not to be offensive to any religion.
"Its aim is to push the gamers to reflect on how the religious and sacred representations are often instrumentally used to fuel or justify conflicts between nations and people," it said.
The site also described the game as a way to "give vent to your intolerance! Religious hate has never been so much fun."
However, the authors of the game did offer a "censored" option, which blocks out the face of Muhammad.
Molleindustria's website describes the company as "an Italian team of artists, designers and programmers that aims at starting a serious discussion about social and political implications of video games."
Other games designed by Molleindustria include Operation: Pedopriest, Queer Power and Oiligarchy, satirizing the Catholic Church, sexual orientation and the oil industry.