Malaysian Muslims urged to steer clear of Pokemon Go

KUALA LUMPUR - Islamic authorities are advising Malaysia's Muslims to avoid Pokemon Go, saying the smartphone game is addictive and harmful.

The hit augmented reality app was released in the Southeast Asian country on Saturday, a month after its initial launch elsewhere. The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia, or Jakim, subsequently endorsed the view of a committee of legal scholars, who sought to dissuade Muslims from playing it. Of Malaysia's population of 30 million, Muslims account for more than 60 per cent.

"The decision is consistent with the view of other Islamic countries that found 'Pokemon Go' causes harm and leads to incidents that claim lives," Jakim said in a statement issued in Malay on Monday. "It also has a negative impact on children and teenagers."

Days before the game hit Malaysian app stores, the scholars released a statement calling on Muslims to shun it. Their representative, Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri, cited various existing fatwas - rulings by recognised authorities and based on Islamic law - to back up the argument against the game.

The authorities' position is a guideline - it does not make playing the game an offence.

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