It looks like the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest clerical body in Indonesia, is not playing games when it comes to possibly issuing a fatwa against popular multiplayer game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
Following the council’s statement last week that they are considering labeling PUBG haram (forbidden) in light of the New Zealand mosque shootings, MUI Vice Secretary General Amirsyah Tambunan said MUI is currently asking for input from various parties, especially on health and psychological aspects, before they move to issue a fatwa on PUBG.
“[The fatwa review] would take at least one month, but the sooner the better so people wouldn’t be confused and have no doubt [about how Islamic laws apply to the game]. For what? For the greater good, especially for our young people, I see we need to get the university students enlightened by MUI’s fatwa,” Amirsyah told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Kumparan.
Amirsyah added that MUI is also going to release a list of what they deem to be positive and negative games, based on the values they may imprint on players.
“There are positive games, in the education context [such as] for mathematics, for science development. But the ones with violence, pornography, horror substances, I think they’re obviously destroying the minds of our young generation. Those games could also plant radical terrorism behavior into them, so they must be rejected,” Amirsyah said.
As previously reported, The West Java chapter of MUI recently told the media that it’s contemplating issuing a fatwa to discourage Muslims in the province from playing PUBG, which it says could have a negative influence on players.
Many have noted that the viral live streamed video of the shooting at one of the two mosques attacked in Christchurch last Friday 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.
A fatwa does not equate to law in Indonesia, but it could be used as the basis for the passing of a new law. Similarly, a fatwa issued by one particular chapter of the MUI would only apply to their specific region, but could be adopted nationwide by the central chapter of MUI.
One of the most controversial MUI fatwas related to the entertainment industry was their prohibition against attending a Lady Gaga concert in 2012, which ultimately led to the event’s cancellation.
If West Java MUI’s fatwa against PUBG is issued, Indonesia would not be the first to have some form of prohibition against the game. Earlier this month, the government of an Indian state made the game illegal and 16 people have been arrested so far for playing it.