Saudi Clerics Renew Fatwa against ‘Pokemon Go’ Due to ‘Gambling’ and ‘Polytheism’ Elements

By Lauretta Brown | July 20, 2016 | 4:49pm EDT


( – An old fatwa banning the original Pokemon card game has been renewed because of the new Pokemon Go craze, according to Arab News.

“The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars, on the website of the General Presidency for Scholarly Research and Ifta, has explicitly renewed the fatwa of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas banning the controversial mobile game,” Arab News reported on Wednesday.

The old fatwa was issued in 2001 and it considered Pokemon a form of gambling, something which is forbidden in Islam.

The fatwa cited a number of prohibitions that justify the banning of the game, including “gambling practices” and “the belief in and worship of many gods,” as well as “the promotion and advertising of disbelief, logos, forbidden images.”


Many prominent voices in the Arab world have condemned the game, including Abbas Shuman, deputy chair of Al-Azhar University in Egypt, who said, “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,” reported Gulf News.

“If such a game can deceive youngsters, I do not know where have gone the minds of adults, who can be hit by a car while being busy searching for Pokemon,” the cleric added.

Aljazeera reports that Hamdi Bakheet, a member of Egypt's committee of defense and national security, told parliament: "Pokemon Go is the latest tool used by spy agencies in the intel war, a cunning despicable app that tries to infiltrate our communities in the most innocent way under the pretext of entertainment. But all they really want is to spy on people and the state."

The concern over use of the game for spying was echoed by Dr. Khalifa Al-Makhrazi, head of the Family Consultative Council in Dubai, in a Sky News Arabia TV interview posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“Any person playing this game is a spy, because the pictures he takes go straight to the global servers,” he claimed. “All the places, all the streets and even inside the homes, all the way to the bedrooms – the pictures go straight to the global servers, where they are saved, in order to expose all that is private. This game is the number one modern spying tool worldwide. A person unknowingly turns into a spy by playing this game."

Dr. Khalifa Al-Makhrazi also linked the game to “Darwinism” in the interview.

“It is prohibited because it is connected to things we are not aware of. It is connected to one's faith. This game is genuinely and directly linked to Charles Darwin's doctrine of Darwinism,” he said, “to the theory of evolution and to the transmutation of the species, where a weak species transforms into a superior species. In our religion, this doctrine is forbidden. Therefore, Al-Azha issues a clear fatwa prohibiting playing this game.”



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