Saudi Arabia has renewed a fatwa on Pokemon because it violates Islamic rules on gambling and uses images such as Christian crosses and Jewish stars.
The edict warning the popular game was haram, or forbidden, was first issued in 2001 when it was played with cards. Now Muslim clerics have re-issued the ruling following the release of Pokemon GO for smartphones.
It warns the game includes triangular symbols related to Freemasonry and other symbols that promote the Islamic sin of Shirk, or worshipping any God other than Allah.
In the game, players walk the streets to find virtual cartoon or Pokemon characters that appear on their smartphone screens, but the decree warns that parents may be using the game to punish and reward their children.
There are also fears the game promotes gambling, which is also forbidden under Islamic law.
In response to the game’s popularity, Saudi Arabia’s General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars has renewed fatwa number 21,758 of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas banning the game.
A senior official at Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the pre-eminent seat of Sunni scholarship in the Muslim world, has also weighed in. Abbas Shumman said users could lose their sense of reality and endanger themselves while playing.
Egypt’s state-run al Ahram newspaper also reported Shumman announcing the game could lead to a “manic attachment to technology” making people forgetful toward worship and prayer.
Neighbouring Kuwait’s Interior Ministry warned users last week not to play the game at mosques, shopping centres, malls and oil installations.