I sent e-mails to Web sites who might want to carry Playing Gods. I got my first official question about the Arab “NotMoe” figure from one of the buyers: “We are interested in your game, but will there be a Muslim figure? We don’t want to offend any Muslims.”
Yeah, I’ll bet you don’t.
I knew this issue would come up sooner or later. Here was my response: “I understand your concern, and I’ve certainly given the issue much thought. The game is not meant to offend anyone, though sometimes people find satire offensive (note the current flap over the Obama cartoon on the New Yorker cover).
Islam forbids the depiction of either Allah or the prophet Mohammed. To avoid any offense, we have a sticker with a star and crescent that can be affixed to a round disc to symbolize Islam in the game. (Other stickers represent other religions as well.)
Neither Allah nor Mohammed is mentioned anywhere in the game, rules, cards, Web site, or anywhere else. While we do have a generic Arab figure, it is unspecified and ambiguous, with its face covered, and could be anyone from a mullah to a sheikh. I showed the figure to two Muslims, and neither had a problem with it as long as it was not identified as Mohammed, which is certainly is not!”
I don’t know whether that satisfied them or not, I guess I’ll find out when I contact them to see if they want to order…I’m sure some people will be offended, though that’s not really my intention. I am very much aware that there is some danger in putting out this game. It is meant as a humorous satire, and fundamentalists of all stripes are not known for their sense of humor, nor their refined sense of the nuances of satire. I have tried to make the Muslim figure as inoffensive and generic as possible (you should see the designs I rejected!). On the other hand, I see no reason why Muslims should be spared criticism, any more than Christians, Buddhists, Jews, or anyone else.