Iraq bans online battle games, citing ‘negative’ influence

Iraq’s Parliament voted on Wednesday to ban popular online video games including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 April 2019

Iraq bans online battle games, citing ‘negative’ influence

  • The ban came “due to the negative effects caused by some electronic games on the health, culture, and security of Iraqi society

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Parliament voted on Wednesday to ban popular online video games including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite, citing their “negative” influence especially on the young in a country long plagued by real-life bloodshed.

Iraq held its first election in 2018 after years of devastating factional violence. Daesh militants held wide swathes of the country for three years until they were driven out in heavy fighting with US-backed forces in 2017.

Lawmakers 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,” according to the text of the resolution.

Oil-rich Iraq has suffered for decades under the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein and UN sanctions, the 2003 US invasion and civil war it unleashed, and the battle against Daesh, 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 criticizing lawmakers for what they said were misplaced priorities. Parliament has passed only one piece of legislation since it first convened, the 2019 federal budget law 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 Shiite 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.


Bashir defense asks Sudan court for bail release

Updated 9 min 17 sec ago

Bashir defense asks Sudan court for bail release

  • Bashir, wearing a traditional white gown, sat in the same metal cage he appeared in on Monday when his trial on graft charges opened
  • The former Sudanese leader is also wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague over his role in mass killings in the western region of Darfur

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s deposed military ruler Omar Al-Bashir appeared in court Saturday for the second hearing of his corruption trial, during which his defense asked for his release on bail.
Bashir, wearing a traditional white gown, sat in the same metal cage he appeared in on Monday when his trial on graft charges opened.
The judge in Khartoum Saturday heard three witnesses, two of them investigators who searched Bashir’s residency after his ouster and the other a banker.
“We ask the court to release the accused on bail,” Bashir’s lawyer Hashem Abu Bakr said, to which the judge answered he would examine a written request.
After the hearing, as a massive security convoy escorted the 75-year-old Bashir back to prison, two opposing groups of demonstrators had gathered.
One group of a few dozen protesters were chanting slogans for Bashir to face justice not just over corruption but for his role in the the country’s deadly conflicts.
“Bashir is a killer” and “He has to face justice,” chanted some of the demonstrators.
Another smaller group had turned out in support of the deposed Islamist general, who was forced from power by relentless protests in April after 30 years in power.
While the sight of Bashir sitting inside a cage in a courtroom was unthinkable only months ago, many in Sudan and abroad have warned that this trial should not distract from the more serious indictments he faces.
The former Sudanese leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague over his role in mass killings in the western region of Darfur.