Iran Prohibits Pikachus, Bans Bulbasaurs As Pokemon GO Declared A National Security Threat
Pikachu's have been prohibited; Bulbasaurs have been banned; Charmanders are nowhere to be found in Iran. All poetry aside, authorities in Iran have banned Pokémon GO due to unspecified “security concerns”. The ban has been issued by the High Council of Virtual Spaces which oversees all online activity.
However, Iranians had been playing the game, despite restrictions on Internet usage. As of last week, authorities in Iran said they were waiting to see to what extent Niantic would cooperate with them. It appears that whatever negotiations were being conducted fell through, and Iran has become the first country to officially ban the game.
Sixteen years ago a fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, was issued against the Pokémon card game. The edict stated that Pokémon contained forbidden images and violated an Islamic law regarding gambling. The Qur'an does not explicitly prohibit the depiction of human beings. Aniconism, a proscription against creation of images of living beings, however is common among several Sunni sects.
A Saudi Arabian Islamic cleric claims that the fatwa against the Pokémon card game also applies to Pokémon GO. It is unclear whether the fatwa influenced the High Council of Virtual Spaces.
Several other countries and organizations have expressed their own security concerns regarding Pokémon GO. Indonesia has prohibited police officers from playing Pokémon GO while on duty. New York state is planning on banning at least three thousand registered sex offenders from playing the game in order to protect children. One Texas man was arrested for threatening to shoot Pokémon GO players. People have even fallen off cliffs, discovered dead bodies, been robbed at gunpoint, accidentally crossed international borders, and wandered onto military bases, thanks, in part, to the game. Of course, it's more misuse of the game that caused these issues.
Regardless of the dangers involved, Pokémon GO is the most popular mobile game in history on both Apple and Android devices. The game has even been luring mobile users away from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Pokémon GO for Android could even surpass Google Maps itself as the largest user of Alphabet’s mapping data.