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Malaysian Islamic leaders say no to Pokemon Go

In this Friday, July 22, 2016 photo, a Pokemon Go player attempts to catch Charmander, one of Pokemon's most iconic creature, in New Delhi, India. "Pokemon Go," the highly addictive online game, has landed in India and thousands are out searching for pokemon characters as the mania spreads. Although it has not been launched officially in India, the augmented-reality-based game has caught on, with fans also using virtual private networks (VPNs) to change their locations and catch pokemons in New York and London while sitting in their Indian homes. (AP Photo/Thomas Cytrynowicz)KUALA LUMPUR – Islamic leaders in Kuala Lumpur said Friday that Muslims should avoid playing Pokemon Go because the popular mobile game was harmful and could “lead to gambling.”

Senior religious official Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri said the city’s Islamic Legal Consultative Committee had taken into consideration top scholars’ opinions on the cartoon creatures.

“Pokemon Go and all the Pokemon characters should be avoided as it can bring harm,” he was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama.

“The game promoted a search for power and deities with certain powers, which could lead to gambling.”

Pokemon Go is not yet available officially in Malaysia, but has been a huge hit in the more than 40 countries where it has been released.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has long practiced a moderate form of Islam, but conservative attitudes are growing.

In July, Saudi Arabia’s top clerical body revived a 2001 religious edict prohibiting Pokemon in response to public calls for guidance on the smartphone version of the game.

The original fatwa said the game was too much like gambling and that the concept of its characters appeared to be based on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which is rejected by Islam.

The viral game uses satellite locations, graphics, and camera capabilities to overlay cartoon monsters on real-world settings, challenging players to capture and train the creatures for battles.

While Pokemon Go has been praised as a fun way to get people outdoors, it has also attracted safety warnings about not walking into oncoming traffic, straying into restricted areas, or becoming victims of crimes.

Last month, Indonesian civil servants were ordered not to play Pokemon Go at work in a bid to protect “state secrets.” (AFP)

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