Palestinians Ban ‘Zionist’ Pokemon
Pokemon has been branded "Zionist agents" and banned in the West Bank and Gaza for looking "suspiciously Jewish," according to the Telegraph newspaper.
Palestinian Islamic leaders - along with those in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and other Arab states - have decreed that the Japanese cartoon monsters be outlawed as part of "an international Zionist conspiracy," said the paper on Sunday.
Last week, members of Palestinian Islamic movements handed out leaflets at schools in the West Bank, ordering pupils to stop playing with Pokemon game cards and banning the watching of the Pokemon television series.
Pikachu and his pals, said one leaflet, looked "suspiciously Jewish."
Pokemon was invented five years ago by a Japanese businessman and developed by Nintendo, with spin-offs in books, comics, toys, television and clothing.
Until now, the 250 Pokemon creatures have been as popular among children in the Middle East as elsewhere.
Representatives of the Muslim Waqf, the chief Islamic authority, told shopkeepers in Arab parts of Jerusalem to stop selling Pokemon products, the paper added.
The ban spreading across the Arab world began last month, when Saudi Arabia's mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, issued a "supreme fatwa" banning Pokemon games and products because they were a "form of gambling" and the swap cards "feature six-pointed stars, a symbol of international Zionism and the state of Israel."
After the religious decree, the Saudi authorities embarked on a "seize and destroy" mission against all Pokemon games and toys being sold in the kingdom.
Saudi television stations stopped broadcasting the cartoons, and Pokemon merchandise was removed from store shelves.
Abdul Aali Al-Abdul Aali, the director general of the Commercial Fraud Combat Department in the Saudi Ministry of Commerce, said anyone found selling or importing Pokemon products would be punished.
Other Arab countries have followed suit. Qatar's mufti, Sheikh Yussef Qardawi, issued a further fatwa against Pokemons, and Dubai's Council of Islamic Teaching ruled that the Pokemon characters also posed a threat because their ability to change characteristics suggested "an acceptance of Darwin's theory of evolution, which religious Muslims reject."
In recent days, rumors have spread that "Pokemon", short for "pocket monsters", means "Jewish" in Japanese and "I am a Jew" in Syriac, a Middle Eastern language related to ancient Aramaic.
Some Palestinian commentators are angry that the scandal surrounding the children's cartoon characters is diverting attention from "the real struggle against the Zionist enemy," said the paper – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)