Amid fears in Iraq that online multiplayer video games are corrupting their youth and getting them addicted to violent fantasies, the government is considering a ban on them.
Over the weekend, a law drafted to ban the online multiplayer video games was submitted by Iraq’s cultural parliamentary committee. The committee especially singled out the multiplayer death-match game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
Considering the country’s long history of war, violence, destruction and bloodshed, Islamic clerics are concerned and are voicing objections to its young people becoming addicted and consumed with the scenes of glorified violence in online games.
Sameaa Gullab, who is the head of the cultural parliamentary committee, said at a press conference in Bagdad, that they are concerned with the obsession regarding the electronic games igniting violence among its children and youth and that the games’ influence has been spreading quickly throughout Iraq’s society.
The law which is in draft form for now is waiting for the parliament’s Speaker to make revisions. The law comes on the heels of Iraqi media reports that the country’s youth is engaging huge stretches of time playing the so-called ‘battle royale’ games. Reports have linked the increase of divorces and suicides to the electronic multiplayer games and their bondage on Iraq’s young people.
Moqtada al-Sadr, a high-profile Shiite cleric of Iraq, wrote on Twitter, the social media website, last Thursday, how saddened he was to see the youth of his country being brainwashed by the electronic multiplayer video game, PUBG. He claims that Iraq’s society is deteriorating because its youth is being mesmerize and influenced by the fighting in PUBG’s video battlefields.
Over the last 16 years, Iraq’s people have been living under the strain of the immense pressures of invasion, almost endless wars between its religious groups and destruction of its infrastructures not to mention the constant on-going re-construction of much of Iraqi state.
Demographers report that Iraq has what they refer to as a ‘youth bulge.’ That is, the youth of the country accounts for approximately 60 percent of Iraq’s 60 million people – around 36 million youth.
Due to the country’s long-standing security challenges, constant eruption of sectarian tension, unemployment that is way above 20 percent and a government infused by corruption allegations, the future of Iraq’s youth is disheartening to say the least. And so, the video games offer an escape from all of these negative pressures for the youth as well as keeping the young players off the streets and out of trouble.
Banning the electronic multi-player games isn’t enough, says Baghdad PUBG player Hassan Ahmed Ali, 21, who told Iraq’s The National that the parliament also needs to consider a substitute for Iraqi youth to ‘keep them occupied.’