Malaysian Mufti Bans Pokémon Go

KUALA LUMPUR – Citing fears about Pokémon Go social and religious concerns, the Malaysian Mufti Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri issued a statement earlier this week, warning Muslims against playing the smartphone-based augmented reality game.

“On Aug 1 the Islamic Legal Consultative Committee of the Federal Territory discussed and decided that the games Pokémon Go and Pokémon are not allowed for Muslims,” mufti or religious expert Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri said in a statement posted on the committee’s website on Friday, Bangkok Post reported on Saturday, August 6.

He added that the opinion took into consideration the edicts and opinions of Islamic authorities in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and came to the conclusion that Pokémon and Pokémon Go can be harmful.

“It can also lead to a craving for power and idols with power. In addition it can lead to gambling,” Zulkifli said.

Moreover, he referred to fears that Pokémon Go can invite foreign surveillance, intrusion into personal privacy, accidents, neglect and addiction toward gadgets among other threats.

Users of the Pokémon Go walk around their real-life neighborhoods in search of scores of “pocket monsters”, which emerge superimposed on the phone screen via its camera.

Last month, religious authorities in Saudi Arabia denied the renewal of a 15-year-old edict declaring that the Pokémon game was un-Islamic, adding the old fatwa made no mention of the mobile game.

The 2001 fatwa said the Pokémon card game contained elements prohibited by Islamic law such as gambling.

The appearance of Pokémon Go in Ka`bah was criticized as a violation of the sanctity of the Grand Mosque in particular and all other mosques.

However, others rejected criticism of the game, saying it depends on important locations set by players in their cities.

On the other hand, Iran banned Pokémon Go just a few days after it was released in early July, citing national security concerns because the game leads users to real-life locations via GPS maps.

“Because this game is a mixture of virtual and physical games, it can pose lots of problems for the country and people in terms of security,” Iranian deputy attorney general Abdulsamad Khoram Abadi told the Tasnim news agency.

“These games can become a means for directing guided missiles and even cause disruptions to ambulances and fire trucks.”