Pokémon Go has become a no-go according to the leading religious organization of Saudi Arabia, the Reuters News Service has reported.
Far from seeing the virtual reality game as a potential lure to houses of worship, the Saudi Muslim clerics issued a fatwa, or directive, renewing its 15-year opposition to the Pokémon game franchise.
“The General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars said it had revived a 2001 decree against a Pokémon card game in response to queries from believers,” the news agency reported.
While many U.S. Christians see the app-based game as a way of bringing Millennials into their churches, the Saudi council sees the game as blasphemous because its characters mutate.
“It also said the game contained other elements prohibited by Islamic law, including ‘polytheism against God by multiplying the number of deities, and gambling, which God has forbidden in the Quran and likened to wine and idols,’” the news agency report said.
Pokémon Go players use smartphones to walk through communities and other areas to find special locations and animated characters in a treasure hunt-style game that relies on GPS technology.
The fatwa also noted that symbolism in the game derives from religions like Shinto and Christianity, as well as from Freemasonry and “global Zionism,” Reuters reported.
The Saudi religious leaders aren’t alone in their concerns.
The Reuters report noted that Middle Eastern countries are often worried about the growth of social media “and authorities in Kuwait and Egypt have already warned that players might be tempted to point their smartphones at restricted locations such as royal palaces, mosques, oil facilities or military bases.”