Indonesia in Pokemon Fever, Dismissing Religious Edict

Avid players of smash-hit mobile phone game Pokemon GO in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, are not letting religious decrees or security warnings get in the way of their mission to catch their next Pokemon.

Nintendo’s augmented reality app, in which players walk around real-life places to hunt virtual characters on their smartphone screens, has become an instant hit globally, almost doubling the market value of the Japanese game-maker.

Saudi Arabia’s top clerical body recently renewed a 15-year-old fatwa, or edict, that declared the Pokemon game franchise un-Islamic, saying it promotes gambling and the theory of evolution, among other concerns. The fatwa, however, made no mention of the successful new Pokemon GO mobile game.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s top Muslim clerical body, has not made a formal statement on Pokemon GO, senior official Amidhan Shaberah told. But he said the game carries “more harm than benefits” as it can make people “intoxicated”, at the cost of their work or studies.

Mohammad Resja Ilham, Radio Host

I will not stop playing unless the reason is realistic. I can meet new people when I play, it’s really fun.

Indonesian telecommunication service provider PT XL Axiata Tbk is offering a 20 percent discount for certain 4G data packages to “take advantage of the Pokemon GO trend”, spokeswoman Turina Farouk told Reuters.

Last Saturday, Southeast Asian ride-hailing service Grab offered deals to Pokemon hunters who hopped on its vehicles to get to the National Monument in the Indonesian capital.

“People are crazy about it now,” said Ridzki Kramadibrata, Indonesia managing director for Grab. “I was there (the National Monument) myself and managed to catch some Pokemon.”