Indonesia Considers Ban on Fortnite over Alleged Anti-Islamic Cube

Epic Games' 'Fortnite' accused of displaying an anti-Islamic cube. Screenshot via YouTube.
Screenshot via YouTube

The government of Muslim-majority Indonesia on Monday called for a ban on the video game Fortnite after allegations that a recent software update allows players to desecrate a cube representing a holy Islamic site.

The update to the multiplayer online game, owned by the U.S.-based company Epic Games, Inc., allows users to destroy a cube-like structure that allegedly resembles Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, known as the Kaaba, the Indonesian news site Detik.com reported.

“[W]e will instruct a team to review and [work on] issuing a ban [on Fortnite],” Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno wrote in an official statement issued July 5.

“We will also warn a number of game developers to be careful,” Sandiaga added.

Explaining the Indonesian government’s decision to call for a ban of Fortnite in the country, the economy minister wrote:

We [Muslims] face the Kaaba at least five times a day, from wherever we are in the world, to perform the obligatory prayers or the sunnah (optional, but encouraged) prayers. And I was told that in this game [Fortnite] there was an icon that was considered to resemble a Kaaba that must be destroyed to acquire new weapons and advance to the next level.

This in my opinion is very much against the noble values, especially in terms of religion, including religious harmony, so this is a very sensitive matter.

Sandiaga further confirmed Monday his support of “a warning recently issued by Cairo’s Al-Azhar University’s International Centre for Electronic Fatwas, which forbids Muslims from playing Fortnite as it encourages ‘violence or containing false ideas which distort faith or show contempt for religious beliefs,'” the Indonesian news site Coconuts Jakarta reported July 5.

Sandiaga referred to a statement issued June 30 by Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, considered by many Muslims as the world’s most prestigious Islamic studies institution. The Middle East Monitor described Al-Azhar University’s Fortnite statement as a “warning” to Epic Games Inc., as it was issued “through the university’s International Centre for Electronic Fatwas (faith-based rulings by Islamic jurists).”

“The centre has previously warned against some electronic games that preoccupy the minds of young people, distract them from their basic tasks of acquiring useful knowledge or work, and lock them up in virtual worlds away from reality while inciting them to hatred and self-harm or the harm of others,” the statement read.

“The Fortnite video game … encourages players to destroy the Kaaba to win weapons and advance to the next level. This affects young people’s beliefs and self-respect and underestimates the importance of their sanctities,” Al-Azhar University’s International Centre for Electronic Fatwas wrote. “Hence, the centre reiterates the banning of all electronic games that encourage violence or contain false ideas which distort faith or show contempt for religious beliefs.”

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