Days after pop star Midna Lyre's revelation that she is a follower of the Sani Sabik faith, reaction across the cluster has been mixed. They range from praise to cries of disgust, with little in between.
The Amarr Empire has officially banned possession of the album inside its border, declaring it heretical. As with all heretical materials, possession of it inside the Empire is considered a capital offense, punishable by a life of slavery or death. The move only increases the criminal penalty for owning the album, as it was previously considered contraband, as with most forms of Federation entertainment.
The move was mirrored inside the Ammatar Mandate and Khanid Kingdom, which did not have bans on the album prior to Midna's announcement. Of the three, only the Khanid Kingdom made an official announcement about the ban, calling on the Federation to "in the spirit of interstellar harmony, ban the Blood Raider album and arrest and punish all involved in its creation." They went on to call the album "a dangerous piece of fanatical propaganda" that would "inevitably lead toward a resurgence in the foul Blood Raider cult that we have worked so hard to exterminate."
In a move that shocked some legal experts, the Minmatar Republic Department of Interstellar Commerce placed the album on its "limited ban" list. The RDIC invoked a rarely-used law that allows them to "restrict the trade of items that may contain content that is harmful to the well being of the Minmatar people" without any Parliamentary action. The ban only applies to the sale and distribution of the album, not to possession, with the only penalty for offense being minor fines, leaving the ban as a mostly symbolic gesture.
Opinions inside the Republic are split regarding the move, though many are in agreement with it. "The Blood Raiders are just the Amarr, but worse," said Jorius Mack, a member of the Republic Customs. "This Midna girl says she's not into all their hate and stuff, but the Amarr said slavery was for our own good too."
A minority opinion is to the contrary. "Hey, it's just music," said Kera Jant, a nightclub owner in Rens. "And it's got a pretty good beat to it. I've heard a few remixes that are really good for dancing. The kids really seem to like it too. Banning makes us no better than the Amarr, trying to stamp out free speech and all that. Don't see why we should follow their example."
The Republic Parliament, in response to the RDIC move, is expected to meet on Monday to discuss the issue. Many expect the ban to be lifted once they are through, though public sentiment seems to run to the contrary. Prime Minister Karin Midular has not commented on the issue, though her press staff released a statement calling the situation "an issue to be determined by Parliament."
The Caldari State has yet to take any action regarding the revelation. Though there have been some minor calls from Echelon Entertainment to ban the album, most experts assume this is related to the distribution deal NOH has for the album in Caldari space rather than any moral reasons. "Quite frankly, the issue of religion is unimportant to the majority of Caldari citizens," said Silla Iwi, a spokesperson for NOH. "As long as the album continues to sell, it will remain available for purchase."
The most fierce debate has been inside the Federation, where no official action regarding the album has taken place. Hederick Maar, the man responsible for the initial controversy around Midna's religion, considered the news a good sign. "Now that she's open about her sick faith, it makes our job of getting rid of her much easier," he said at a rally outside the largest Interspace store in Oursulaert. "Midna must not be allowed to continue to spread her poisonous message! Her concerts should be banned, her album should be banned, and she should be banned!" A crowd of around 500 chanted shouts of support.
The anti-Midna sentiment is not held only by Amarrian immigrants to the Federation, however. Jessup Cohn, a citizen of the Federation who traces his lineage back to pre-spaceflight Gallente Prime, also expressed concern about the album. "Hey, I agree everyone should be able to believe what they want. But the Blood Raiders aren't just a religion. They're also pirates and killers. People are liable to get hurt because of this. And that's not right, no matter what."
Though a minority, Cohn's feelings are still widely held. In a recent Scope poll, 38% of Federation citizens said they would support restricting the sale of Midna's album to adults, 45% said they would support placing a warning label on the album, while 22% support banning the sale of the album entirely. In contrast, 84% of those polled said they supported Midna's right to practice Sani Sabik rituals, 80% said they did not care that Midna was a Sani Sabik follower, and 54% indicated they would be fine with a friend or family member practicing the religion.
"I still love Midna," said Jan Sauer, a fan. "She's the best. I'd never heard about the Sani Sabik before all this. I mean, sure, I knew what the Blood Raiders were, but not the Sani Sabik stuff. But now, I've been looking into it. It's actually pretty interesting. I'm trying to find out if there are any of their churches around here."
Sales of Lifeblood, which had begun to slow down in recent months, spiked following Midna's announcement. "I just wanted to see what all the controversy was about," said Ilia Wylian, a student at the University of Caille. "The music is actually pretty good. I might have to go to a concert, if she comes around."
Egonics Inc., the main distributor of Midna's music inside the Federation, has reaffirmed its commitment to the music. "Egonics does not believe in the restriction of free speech, especially when it comes at the expense of artistry. As always, those who do not want to hear Midna's music can remove the songs from their playlists. To deny the billions who enjoy her music the joy of hearing it, simply because others object to it, is censorship of the worst kind."