Baghdad, Parliament bans online games for kids: too violent

The MPs voted against Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.  They exert a "negative" influence on young people and have no educational value.  The revolt of young people and Internet users was immediate.  Radical Shiite leader Al-Sadr is one of the supporters of the controversial law: they are creating addiction.


Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The Iraqi Parliament has voted to ban some popular online video games, including the famous Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (better known by the acronym Pubg).  

Among the reasons that pushed the deputies to ban the two video games there would be above all the "negative" influence they have on young people, in a nation plagued for a long time - and still today - by bloody wars and jihadist violence.

Iraq held its first general elections in 2018, after years of strong ethnic, religious and denominational tensions.  Previously, from 2014 to the beginning of 2017 the militias of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) controlled part of the country, especially in the north where they elected Mosul as a stronghold and capital of the so-called "caliphate".

The offensive launched by the Arab-Kurdish coalition, supported by US air strikes, has allowed the jihadist group to be expelled, today declared defeated at least on the military level.

The parliamentarians, who were sworn in last September after months of disputes and complaints related to the outcome of the vote, with repeated counting operations, approved a resolution that obliges the government to ban some online programs, particularly online games of a violent nature and those involving financial transactions.

In the resolution the deputies stress that the ban is justified "by the negative effects on health, culture and security of Iraqi society caused by electronic games".  They, the note states, are a source of "moral and social threats to children and young people".

The provision voted by the Parliament immediately unleashed the revolt of Internet users, in particular young people who are the privileged catchment area for video games.  In these hours hundreds of users on social media have strongly criticized the norm, inviting the country's ruling class to deal with more urgent problems: rampant corruption, lack of basic services such as drinking water and electricity, sky-high youth unemployment.

The one against the "violent" games on the net is one of the few rules that the Chamber has managed to approve, together with the law on the federal budget 2019 in January, from the moment it comes into operation.  The production of the South Korean Bluehole Inc PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a real battle for survival that sees a group of players catapulted onto a wild island and committed to eliminating each other, is being targeted.

Fortnite is the work of Epic Games, a company based in North Carolina (United States), which over the years has attracted the interest of tens of millions of users worldwide.

The online launch dates back to 2017 and today they are considered a product of global success.

In recent days, the radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, whose coalition won the last May vote, urged young Iraqis to flee violent online games, because they are addictive.  In the past he has repeatedly appealed to the government to ban videogames at the center of the controversy.  "What will you earn - he wrote in a message - to kill one or two people at Pubg?  It is not a game of intelligence or military skill, which teaches you the right way to fight ".