Israel Warns Against 'Pokemon Go,' Egypt Declares It Un-Islamic

Despite its unexpected popularity in the Arab world, Middle Eastern leaders do not approve of the viral game “possessing the minds” of its players.

virtual map of Bryant Park

Just like the rest of the world, the craze of the augmented reality phenomenon that projects fake animals from your childhood onto the streets through your phone is also sweeping through the Middle East at a fast pace.

The nostalgic fad of the year, “Pokemon Go,” might not have been officially released in the region, but many smartphone users have reportedly managed to download it on their devices — joining countless fans across the globe on the quest to find the Japanese "pocket monsters."

The location-based game, in which the worst thing to happen is a Pokemon escaping a “Poké Ball,” has seen people falling off cliffs and getting stabbed but refusing treatment because they wanted to “catch ‘em all.”

While even politicians in the West have started jumping on the bandwagon, some Middle Eastern leaders have expressed their distaste towards the viral game. In fact, Egyptian clerics have actually declared “Pokemon Go” forbidden in Islam.

“This game makes people look like drunkards in the streets and on the roads while their eyes are glued to the mobile screens leading them to the location of the imaginary Pokemon in the hope of catching it,” said Abbas Shuman, deputy head of Egypt's top Islamic institution. “Will we find some lunatics walk into mosques, churches, prisons and military units in search of the missing [Pokemon]?”

mobile game

For those unaware, in 2001, Egypt’s then highest Islamist official, Grand Mufti Nasr Fareed, issued a fatwa against the Pokémon franchise, calling it un-Islamic for allegedly promoting Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Unsurprisingly, Egypt is not the only country to warn people against the game.

The Higher Committee for Scientific Research and Islamic Law in Saudi Arabia has also issued a fatwa against Pokemon, describing it as "possessing the minds" of children while promoting Zionism and gambling.

Moreover, the Israel Defense Forces has also warned its soldiers against playing the game on military bases, as it requires a camera.

“The game is a source for gathering information!” the IDF's Information Security Department said in a statement. “The game cannot be used on an army base!”

They fear the soldiers might accidentally reveal sensitive information about military bases and army operations through the game.

View Comments

Recommended For You