It may seem that everyone in the world is enchanted by “Pokémon Go,” but that’s not the case: A group of top clerics in Saudi Arabia have upheld an edict declaring the Nintendo franchise un-Islamic, according to local reports.
The ruling is a renewal of a fatwa established 15 years ago when the game franchise first emerged on the then-popular Nintendo Game Boy platform. The renewed edict did not address “Pokémon Go,” the recently released iOS and Android app iteration of the game, directly, but the review seems to be prompted by religious followers who specifically asked about the franchise, more than likely as a result of the global “Pokémon Go” hype. The game is currently thriving in 30 countries.
The reasons for the fatwa against “Pokémon” listed by the clerics included the game’s alleged promotion of natural evolution through its monster character’s “evolved” stages, polytheistic themes, and Christian and Shinto religious iconography.
“Pokémon Go” is an “augmented reality app” in which players hunt virtual “Pokémon,” small combat-ready monsters, on their phones in real-life locations. It uses the camera and GPS on the player’s device to locate and allow players to capture the various Pokémon. The aim is to collect as many of the 250 Pokémon in the game as possible and train them to battle other players and take control of “gyms” around the world.