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Saudi Arabia Just Declared Pokemon Go 'Haram'

As the Pokemon Go craze sweeps the globe, Saudi Arabia is taking strides to ensure its citizens don’t participate.

Top Muslim clerics renewed a fatwa, or edict, against the Pokemon brand Wednesday that was originally issued in 2001, declaring that the phone app is un-Islamic because it promotes the theory of natural evolution, gambling, “forbidden images” and, puzzlingly, “global Zionism.”


“It is shocking that the word 'evolution' has been much on the tongues of children,” the edict read, according to Reuters. The evolution refers to the mutations of the Pokemon creatures in the game.

The 2001 fatwa declared “all Pokemon games in the market would be confiscated and destroyed immediately.” AP reported that a senior cleric said “the current version of the game is the same as the old one.”

Saudi officials said the game promotes Zionism, Christianity, Japan’s Shinto religion and Freemasonry because some symbols in the game are also used in those faiths. Pokemon also upholds polytheism with its numerous “deities,” according to the clerics.

A top Islamic institution in Egypt also recently condemned the game:

“Will we find some lunatics walk into mosques, churches, prisons and military units in search of the missing [Pokemon]?” an Egyptian cleric said. “Will people neglect their work and earning their living and devote themselves instead to hunting for Pokemon?”


An Australian news outlet reported that three Saudi men have been arrested for playing Pokemon Go in a “restricted” area of an airport.

In light of this recent ban renewal, here are some of the most ridiculous things Saudi Arabia has forbidden:

  • Wearing perfume or “beautifying” oneself in any way when going out
  • Handshakes between men and women, even in a culture where it is customary
  • Movie theaters
  • Girls playing sports or taking gym classes
  • Fake eyelashes
  • Vanilla extract
  • Natural pearls
  • Binoculars
  • Walkie-talkies
  • Chess games
  • More than one Bible per person

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