Research has consistently shown that the theory that violent video games cause players to become more violent is wrong but the horrific mosque shooting that took place in New Zealand in March put the issue in the spotlight once more. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s most senior clerical body, said it was planning to issue a fatwa (religious edict) declaring certain violent video games haram (forbidden) but, for whatever reason, has not done so yet.
MUI may have had misgivings about the fatwa, but the Ulama Consultative Assembly (MPU) of Aceh, the senior clerical body within the ultra-conservative region, had no such doubts, issuing a fatwa today declaring PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) — a popular online military-style first-person shooter — as well as similar games, haram.
“After we studied the issue for two days, the result is that playing PUBG games and similar games have been judged to be haram,” said MPU deputy chair Teungku Faisal Ali as quoted by Detik today.
The fatwa came at the end of a two-day discussion with the title: “The Law and the Impact of PUBG and Similar Games according to Islamic jurisprudence, Information Technology and Psychology”.
Faisal said the MPU clerics decided to forbid followers from playing PUBG and the like for a number of reasons, one being that it could inspire violence among children and other players.
Fatwas are not legally binding in Indonesia, but they can be used as the basis for the passing of a new law.
In late March, the West Java chapter of MUI told the media that it was contemplating issuing a fatwa to discourage Muslims in the province from playing PUBG, which it said could have a negative influence on players. However, until now, they have not released any such fatwa.
The talk of a potential fatwa came in the wake of the horrific shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 50 people. Many noted that the viral live-streamed video of the shooting at one of the two mosques was reminiscent of a first-person shooter video game. The shooter in the video also made a reference to PewDiePie, a renowned gaming Youtuber, before he stormed the mosque with a semi-automatic rifle.