The religious authorities in Dubai have joined an Islamic ban on Pokemon films and games already declared in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, a newspaper reported Sunday, April 7.
The religious affairs department has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, banning Pokemon games, which it said were "similar to gambling."
The department condemned "the harmful effects on the behavior of children," the Arabic daily Al-Khaleej said.
The top religious authority in Saudi Arabia announced a ban on Pokemon on March 25 and Qatar's mufti followed suit in order "to preserve our children, their faith, their morale and their money."
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is one of seven members, were still investigating the craze launched in Japan in 1996 to decide whether it was un-Islamic.
Jordan's Muslim community leaders have also voiced their determination to eradicate the colorful trading cards youngsters love to collect.
In the conservative Saudi kingdom the authorities say all Pokemon effects will be confiscated and destroyed.
Saudi Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh urged "all Muslims to beware of this game and prevent their children from playing it so as to protect their religion and manners."
He charged that the worldwide phenomenon of Pokemon was a bad influence, resembling gambling because of the competition for collecting cards, and protested that the character concept appeared to be based on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which is rejected by Islam.
Most of the cards "figure six-pointed stars, a symbol of international Zionism and the state of Israel" as well as "different-shaped crosses," he said.
Pokemon was developed by Satoshi Tajiri, based on a childhood fondness for gathering insects and watching monsters on TV. He created a video game inhabited by 150 animated creatures with personalities.
Its success has spread to trading cards, comic books, a television series, film and toys, with sales running into billions of dollars. — (AFP, Dubai)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)