Pokemon Go declared haram by Kedah Muslim authorities as Malaysia mosques, schools become PokeStops

The Kedah Fatwa Committee has ruled that the Pokemon Go game is haram due to its potential to "jeopardise faith" in Islam. PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) - The Kedah Fatwa Committee has ruled that the Pokemon Go game is haram due to its potential to "jeopardise faith" in Islam.

The decision was made after a meeting on Wednesday (Aug 10) with 10 council members at the mufti's office, said state mufti Datuk Syeikh Muhamad Baderudin Ahmad.

"It (the game) will jeopardise one's faith (keimanan)," said the mufti.

Signboards warning against playing Pokemon Go will be put up within mosque compounds.

The augmented reality game is driving everybody crazy, and Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi has issued some advice.

"Play it all you want but just don't go Pokemon hunting while driving.

"That will land you with a RM300 fine," he said after launching Road Transport Department (JPJ) cadet brigade for secondary school students in Putrajaya. The amount is equivalent to S$100.

Across Malaysia, schools, colleges, places of worship and even police stations are finding it a nuisance having strangers hanging around their premises which are designated as PokeStops - places where the players go to replenish their ammunition.

Several school heads claim many students are distracted by the game, while the school premises are attracting strangers.

In Ipoh, SMJK Sam Tet, St Michael's Institution and SMK Anderson are all Pokestops. SMJK Sam Tet principal Lau Swee Mun said with major examinations such as PT3 and SPM trials around the corner, the game would be a distraction.

"We don't want our students affected by unfamiliar faces outside the school compound.

"I cannot control people who come looking for Pokemon outside the school, but I personally feel school premises should not be made PokeStops," said St Michael's Institution principal Chan Nyook Ying.

In Penang, the famous St Anne's Church, where hundreds of thousands gather once a year, is not interested in the daily gathering of gamers.

The Bukit Mertajam church has put up "No Pokemon" at its premises.

Church administrative officer Vincent Yong said at least 15 to 20 vehicles had entered the church compound around 9am on Tuesday.

"We can identify our pilgrims and tourists, but these people did not belong to either category. It has become a nuisance," he said.

A Pokemon Go player said there were six PokeStops within the church's compound and one Pokemon Gym there.

The Church of Our Lady of Sorrows and the St Paul's Church across the road are both PokeStops. And a school which sits next to one of the churches is also affected.

"The road in front of the school is always congested with limited parking spots. The high number of Pokemon players around the school area further compounded the problem, and we are worried about the safety of our pupils," said school board member Goh Boon Poh.

They may want to go to the police but the cops have their hands full, too.

The gamers are playing at the George Town district police headquarters in Patani Road, which is also a PokeStop. And George Town OCPD Asst Comm Mior Faridalathrash Wahid said police cannot stop those on official business from playing the game there.

"It is not illegal to play the game. However, people with no official business with us will not be allowed to enter. It is a restricted area," he said.

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