Indonesian minister calls for ‘Fortnite’ ban over user-generated content resembling the Islamic site of the Kaaba

The minister said he had been told the user-created island let players "destroy" a structure resembling the Kaaba, a holy site for Muslims

An Indonesian minister has called for a ban on Fortnite in the country over an allegedly user-generated map which features a structure resembling a holy Islamic site.

Yesterday (July 5), the Indonesian Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno announced his intention to pursue a ban of the popular battle royale game. It appears that this decision concerned a piece of Fortnite content from 2019 that depicts a structure in the game resembling the Kaaba. Located at the centre of the Masjid al-Haram Mosque of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the Kaaba is one of the most sacred sites in Islam.

According to a CNN Indonesia report, Minister Sandiaga said he had been told that he structure resembling the Kaaba must be “destroyed” to retrieve new weapons and head to a new level.

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However, Fortnite’s developer Epic Games has refuted the claim, saying that the structure cannot be demolished through gameplay.

“The game Fortnite is directly against noble values, especially religious ones,” said Sandiaga in a statement. “Therefore, I instruct the team to review and immediately issue a ban. We also want to warn some game developers to be careful.”

Sandiaga’s decision follows a recently issued fatwa (a formal ruling or interpretation on a point of Islamic law given by a qualified legal scholar) from Muslim scholars at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, that warns Muslims against playing Fortnite, after the content with the structure resembling the Kaaba trended on social media across the Arab world.

Following the ensuing backlash over the imagery, Fortnite developer Epic Games issued a clarification via a Facebook post on its Fortnite Middle East page on June 30.

The studio claims that the content in question was created by a player in Fortnite’s Creative Mode, which allows players to design and build their own maps.

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“We would like to emphasise that our team respects all religions and works closely with our game content makers to provide a safe gaming experience for all our players,” said the developer.

يوّد فريق Fortnite توضيح أمر ما بشأن تدنيس أماكن العبادة في اللعبة. كان المحتوى المشار إليه عبارة عن جزيرة من صنع لاعب…

Posted by Fortnite on Tuesday, June 29, 2021

 

Following Epic Games’ clarification, Indonesia’s Minister of Communication and Information Johnny G. Plate acknowledged to CNN Indonesia that the content in question was user-generated, and not a gameplay element set by Fortnite developers. Plate would work with the Indonesian National Police to track down the creator of the content, he said.

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, with almost 87 per cent of its 270million population professing Islam as their faith.

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