It looks like the movement to ban super popular augmented reality mobile phone game Pokemon GO – at least within the Muslim community in Indonesia – is really gathering steam.
Last week, the South Tangerang branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued a fatwa saying that Pokemon GO is haram (forbidden in Islam) because no good comes from playing the game. Yesterday, their neighboring Lebak branch in the Banten province also issued the same fatwa.
According to them, Pokemon GO could become a distraction for Muslims from performing their daily prayers. Ironic, given that in Indonesia, many Pokestops and gyms in the game are located in mosques in real life. There have, however, been anecdotes of kids going to mosques to play Pokemon GO instead of praying.
In addition, MUI Lebak reasoned that Muslims are forbidden to engage in activities that waste their time.
“We want the central branch of MUI to study [the game] and also issue a fatwa against Pokemon GO,” said MUI Lebak General Secretary KH Ahmad Hudori, as quoted by Merdeka.
MUI South Tangerang also issued the same plea to the central branch last week, but central has yet to issue a fatwa against Pokemon GO.
The police and several government branches in Indonesia have banned their employees from playing Pokemon GO during work hours. That said, some of the nation’s top officials, including Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, have encouraged civilians to play the game as it could boost tourism.