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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Iraq Parliament Bans Online Games for Their Negative Influence

Media & Culture

7Dnews London - Reuters

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 20:41 GMT

The Iraqi parliament voted on Wednesday, April 17th, to ban military online games such as Battlegrounds and Fortnite. The members of the parliament justified their call by highlighting the negative influence of such games on the youth living in a troubled country, reported Reuters.

Iraq held its first election in 2018 after years of violence. Isis militants controlled large areas of the war-torn country for three years until they were driven out in heavy fighting with US-backed forces in 2017.

Parliamentarians, who were sworn in last September after months of disputed results and ballot box recounts, approved a resolution that mandated the government to bar online access to the games and ban related financial transactions.

The ban came "due to the negative effects caused by some electronic games on the health, culture, and security of Iraqi society, including societal and moral threats to children and youth," the text of the resolution read.

Oil-rich Iraq has suffered for decades under the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein and UN sanctions, the 2003 US invasion and the civil war it unleashed, and the battle against Isis, over which Baghdad declared victory in 2017.

Corruption is rampant and basic services like power and water are lacking. Unemployment is widespread, especially among young people.

The new ban quickly drew online discontent with hundreds of Iraqi social media users criticising the lawmakers for what they said were misplaced priorities. Parliament has passed only one piece of legislation since it first convened, the 2019 federal budget which was issued in January.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), made by South Korean firm Bluehole Inc, is a survival-themed battle game that drops dozens of online players on an island where they try and eliminate each other.

North Carolina-based Epic Games' Fortnite, with a similar premise, is seen as an industry game-changer by analysts as it signed up tens of millions of users for its last-player-standing "Battle Royale" format.

Both were launched in 2017 and have a huge global following.

Influential Iraqi Shi'ite cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr, whose political coalition won the largest number of seats in parliament, earlier on Thursday urged Iraqi youth to shun PUBG, calling it addictive. Sadr called on the government to ban it.

"What will you gain if you killed one or two people in PUBG? It is not a game for intelligence or a military game that provides you with the correct way to fight," he wrote in a two-page statement.

Middle East