A man tries to catch the pokèmon 'Spearow' in his car using the app 'Pokèmon Go'  in kuwait City on July 14,2016. A man tries to catch the pokèmon 'Spearow' in his car using the app 'Pokèmon Go' in kuwait City on July 14,2016.

KUWAIT: Many religious institutions in Arab countries have issued a fatwa against Pokemon Go, the wildly popular game app sweeping the world. "Pokemon Go has harmed many players, who have been involved in car accidents or fallen from cliffs," Sheikh Hai Al-Hai, a cleric at a Sabah Al-Salem mosque told Kuwait Times.

Hai said Pokemon Go makes players walk like drunkards without paying attention to what is going on around them. He added that the Saudi Grand Mufti and the deputy head of Al-Azhar Abbas Shuman have prohibited playing this game. He reiterated that Islam prohibits anything that harms us. "This game has made people spy on each other. It takes photos of private places, houses and worship places, and this makes us believe that the game could be a tool by some terrorist organizations to know more about these locations with videos, photos and even addresses," he said.

"God instructs us not to spy in the Holy Quran, but if you look at all social media sites, you will see that they are spying on people everywhere by getting their passwords, personal photos, videos of their intimate moments and more. Young people are lost in social media and games - they are wasting the best time of their lives," Sheikh Hai added.

Several MPs in Kuwait have also expressed concern about the game, reiterating a statement made earlier by the Interior Ministry in which it warned gamers from using the app near 'vital locations' including mosques, police stations and shopping malls for security reasons. Meanwhile, one Islamist lawmaker argued that using the app itself does not constitute a violation to the law or Islamic regulations. "If a user's actions lead to harming others or to a violation to the law such as entering a house uninvited or taking pictures without permission, then he should be punished according to the law," MP Abdulrahman Al-Jeeran explained, as quoted by Al-Rai newspaper yesterday.

Pokemon Go is a free-to-play app that gets users up and moving in the real world to capture fictional 'pocket monsters' known as Pokemon. The goal is to capture as many of the more than hundred species of animated Pokemon as you can.

The idea that Pokemon, a Japanese videogame in which the player must collect all species of the titular mythical creatures, is a plot to subvert Islam is not a new one among Muslim clerics. When the game first became popular in the early 2000s, Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh claimed the game featured symbols "of international Zionism and the state of Israel" and had the potential of "possessing the minds" of children with Zionist ideas. His fatwa stands today, reaffirmed by Egyptian clerics

By Faten Omar