‘Pokemon GO’ Making Waves In Middle Eastern Governments And Politics

Pokemon GO has been taking America by storm, and it has certainly seen its ups and downs. Car accidents, people being locked in cemeteries, and other oddities have occurred as a result of playing Pokemon GO, but these incidents are far more likely the cause of the individuals themselves.

Pokemon GO, as a craze or the latest fad, has not been confined to the borders of the United States. Al Jazeera reports that it has been causing quite a stir throughout the Middle East as well.

In Egypt, opinions range from Pokemon GO being likened to a “threat to national security” and “alcohol substance abuse.” Pokemon GO has caused a Middle Eastern politician, Ahmed Badawi, the Egyptian deputy head of the communication committee, to call on the Egyptian government to ban the augmented reality app. Badawi claims it exposes the country’s vital security sites to the world. Egyptian defense and national security committee member Hamdi Bakhit elaborated on their country’s concern with Pokemon GO.

Pokemon GO is the latest tool used by spy agencies in the intel war, a cunning despicable app that tries to infiltrate our communities in the most innocent way under the pretext of entertainment. But all they really want is to spy on people and the state.”

Saudi Arabia expressed similar concerns about Pokemon GO and its ability to reveal sensitive locations in their country. The Middle Eastern country’s Communication and Information Technology Commission warned that a user’s privacy and information was up for grabs, and hackers could lead Pokemon GO players to isolated places to rob or harm them.

Qatar’s government is far more lackadaisical about the whole thing. In fact, in Qatar, some Pokemon GO players banded together to make a Twitter account for tips, hints, news, and a how-to guide for playing it in Qatar and potentially other parts of the Middle East.

However, not everyone in the Middle East country is so tame in response to Pokemon GO. Qatari-based cleric Yousef Qaradawi, a “leading voice” of the defunct Muslim Brotherhood, issued an Islamic edict to ban the Pokemon GO app. He said that Pokemon GO was “un-Islamic” and the app sought to “possess the minds” of children and its users and promote “Zionism and gambling.”

Saudi Arabia agrees with Yousef Qaradawi. Their Higher Committee for Scientific Research and Islamic Law has elaborated on Qaradawi’s edict and has stated that the Pokemon GO app has most of its “cards figure six-pointed stars, a symbol of international Zionism and the state of Israel.”

The International Business Times reports that Qatari businessman Adel Bin Ali even joked about the Pokemon GO craze in the Middle East and made a satirical comparison with the recent coup d’etat in Turkey on his Twitter account.

“#TurkishCoup? what coup? #Turkey’s Generals stormed #Erdogan palace looking for #PokemonGO”

The Middle East has other countries that are also not too fond of Pokemon GO and express similar concerns and reasoning. The Kuwaiti government reached out to its people and cautioned them on taking photos of government buildings, installations, mosques, malls, and other shopping centers.

The Kuwaiti interior ministry undersecretary, Suleiman al-Fahd, had this to say in a public statement.

“The danger in dealing with this game is that it involves the user photographing areas nearby with… smartphones which transfer the pictures of the sites to third parties. The interior ministry has informed security men to show zero tolerance to anyone approaching such prohibited sites, deliberately or not.”

Pokemon GO will likely die down eventually, but as the rest of the world begins to pick up the augmented reality app, they will face hurdles in their own country for playing a simple smartphone game. U.S. Pokemon GO players are not immune to governmental oversight either.

Fox News reported last Friday that a New York assemblyman, and a Brooklyn Democrat Felix Ortiz, that is well-known for crusades against other personal activities like sugar, alcohol, and strips clubs, want to regulate and consider the Pokemon GO creators to have “corporate liability” for their customers’ behavior.

[Photo by Olivia Harris/Getty Images]