Pokemon GO has been banned in Saudi Arabia after an old fatwa outlawing the original game was renewed.
As CNet is reporting via Arab News, fatwa No. 21,758, originally issued in 2001, forbid the original Pokémon game because it involved a form of gambling, it “possessed the minds” of children, and because it promoted “polytheism and the belief in and worship of many gods, in addition to the promotion and advertising of disbelief, logos, forbidden images and other caveats.”
No one is really worshipping Zubats or Rattatas as far as I know, but the fatwa also points to the idea that evolution, as a concept, is promoted within the game.
The original fatwa was issued by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is now a Qatar-based cleric known to be the leading religious voice of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Per the fatwa:
The theory of evolution is a main element. One of the most important things that makes man condemn this game is adopting the theory of evolution developed by Darwin. This theory states that all species of organisms evolve and that the origin of man was an ape. Astonishingly, the children frequently use the word ‘evolution’ inside and outside the game. You can hear them saying that this creature contained in the card has evolved to another form.
Again, probably beside the point when it comes to the mobile game, but yay for religion and backwards thinking!
The game, and its popularity, is sparking debate throughout the Middle East, as Al Jazeera reports. It’s been featured on the Iraqi version of The Daily Show, hosted by comedian Ahmad al-Basheer, in order to poke fun at politicians, and officials in Egypt and Kuwait have decried the game as blasphemous as well.