Egypt uses religious decrees to shield kids from risky video games
Egypt uses religious decrees to shield kids from risky video games

Cairo: Dar al-Ifta, one of Egypt's leading Islamic organizations, is trying to raise awareness about the potential negative effects mobile games and apps can have on youth.

According to a recent study by the Global Fatwa Index, 33% of fatwas issued this year were related to technical matters, and many of them stressed the need to protect children from exploitation and violent or other harmful content.

"Video games and contemporary applications are a double-edged sword," Sheikh Aweida Othman of Dar al-Ifta, the main Islamic legal organization that issues fatwas for the Egyptian government, told Arab News.

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Despite their potential for mental development, they have many drawbacks, chief among them being mobile addiction, prevalence of violence, social exclusion, prevalence of unrest and psychological disorders.

"The latest retrospective fatwas from Egypt's Dar al-Iftaa deal with the issue of buying and selling currencies in video games because it is legal, but with controls that must be taken into account ... Games should not become a daily habit becomes an addiction which causes health and psychological issues and mental exhaustion," according to the fatwa.

Othman claimed that extreme right-wing movements in the West rely on video games to engage and exploit children and adolescents, repeating a finding in the Fatwa Index that suggested some apps were used for political exploitation.

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In some online games, he continued, players can set up private networks and chat without being monitored, as members of radical groups such as Daesh can do. Most notable of these, according to him, was Fortnite, which is one of the most played fighting games worldwide.

According to Othman, ISIS (another name for Daesh) adopts the same terrorist ideology and tactics by taking advantage of video game platforms to recruit young males and minors and using covert channels of communication to maintain anonymity.

Sheikh Seyed Abdulaziz, secretary general of Egypt's Family House, said religious organizations, families and educational and media groups needed to cooperate and heed warnings about video games. The Egyptian Family House is an initiative launched in 2011 to promote religious coexistence.

"The steady and rapid growth of video games and mobile applications is difficult to monitor," he told Arab News and called on religious institutions to dedicate staff to monitoring these developments and issuing active fatwas about them.

It is necessary to work together with the media, schools, colleges and religious organizations to address the lack of fatwas related to video games in the youth and children's category.

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To prevent the spread of content among youth that is inappropriate for their religion or country, he continued, "We must also focus on monitoring new apps and ensure that they are upholding public morals. "

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