Religious scholars in Dubai have issued a Fatwa which denounces Pokemon as unislamic and a negative influence on children. The Dubai Department of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs issued the religious edict after studying the widespread craze among youngsters for swapping Pokemon cards, often with money changing hands.

The decision does not constitute a ban on sales of Pokemon, although the Department of Economic Development may now investigate the issue in light of the Fatwa. Ahmed Abdul Aziz Al Haddad, Assistant Director General of the Research and Fatwa Administration, said the findings of the committee appointed to evaluate Pokemon were issued following enquiries from parents who had asked for an Islamic point of view about the game.

The Fatwa states that Pokemon is a form of gambling in which the only real winners are the manufacturers who have created an obsessive game designed to yield high profits. It also found the game promoted Darwin's theory of evolution which is rejected by Islam.

"When children get this notion of humans developing over the years it will give them ideas which are harmful to their minds," it says. "We should raise children in Islam and keep them away from such games."

The Fatwa says that it is a parent's responsibility to take care of their children and raise them with Islamic discipline. "This game is undoubtedly against Islam," it concludes. "This goes along with what we have heard from scholars in Egypt and the Mufti in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Malaysia."

Al Haddad said the Dubai Department of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs does not have the authority to ban Pokemon, but was issuing the advice from an Islamic point of view for the benefit of the public.

"Any action taken is out of our hands," he said. "It will be up to the relevant government authorities to impose any ban." Pokemon has been banned in Saudi Arabia and Qatar after religious scholars declared it unislamic.