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Report: LittleBigPlanet Musician Discusses Controversial Song, Islamic Law

Singer Toumani Diabate, the musician behind the _LittleBigPlanet_soundtrack song that caused Sony to delay the game, is speaking to the media about the controversy surrounding his music, and his record label is providing context for the song that got

Leigh Alexander, Contributor

October 21, 2008

2 Min Read

Malian singer Toumani Diabate, the musician behind the LittleBigPlanet soundtrack song that caused Sony to delay the game, is speaking out about the controversy surrounding his music. A user on the PlayStation Europe forums had posted that sampling the Koran lyrics in Diabate's 'Tapha Niang' would cause conflict with the Arabic community and with Islamic beliefs. "We Muslims consider the mixing of music and words from our Holy Quran deeply offending," read the post. Sony subsequently delayed LittleBigPlanet's worldwide release in order to remove the track. But speaking to MTV Multiplayer, Diabate says "it is quite normal to play music and be inspired by the words of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace on his Soul) in my country in Mali. You can see this on television all the time." Diabate's record label, World Circuit Records, explained the context of the song in question to MTV. Apparently, 'Tapha Niang' is an adaptation of a traditional Malian song about a beloved hippopotamus shot by a white hunter; in the adaptation, Diabate laments the death of his young brother, using the Koran verses to "draw strength from the words of the Prophet" and overcome his grief. The record label's statement to MTV says that in this context, the use of the words was appropriate: "He is not blaspheming or taking the Koran out of context." MTV's report also consults Dilshad Ali, a Muslim editor at religious website Beliefnet, who explains that "things that make us lose our inhibitions," like alcohol and drugs, are restricted in Muslim law, and while music is not considered on the same scale, it's still an area that requires sensitivity when the Koran's words are involved -- even though there is no explicit prohibition on using them as song lyrics. The 43-year-old Diabate has released eight albums since his debut, 'Kaira,' in 1988, and has performed with many international groups. His instrument of choice is the kora, a West African instrument with 21 strings.

About the Author(s)

Leigh Alexander


Leigh Alexander is Editor At Large for Gamasutra and the site's former News Director. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Variety, Slate, Paste, Kill Screen, GamePro and numerous other publications. She also blogs regularly about gaming and internet culture at her Sexy Videogameland site. [NOTE: Edited 10/02/2014, this feature-linked bio was outdated.]

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