Hey everyone, I'm a newbie in the forum but I'm kinda getting used to it by now, here's my first post.
This is a true story that I lived through, I personally think it's a bit funny that's why I thought about sharing it here...
I live in the middle east (not a terrorist LOL); in Egypt if you want to know exactly, and like many other countries we watched the Pokemon anime, it was dubbed in Arabic and was such a huge success because of its high view rates, and so was the merchandise as it was bought everywhere. But suddenly the show disappeared from all channels; never aired nor mentioned, & soon enough the merchandise did too, and Pokemon just vanished from our lives.
Not many people knew what happened and why, especially the young ones like my friends and I back then. The only thing I thought of was that the franchise got old and it was deemed as a losing card, that was hard to believe but it was the only explanation I had.
Many years later, I remembered the whole thing and wanted to surf the net to know news about my beloved show. So I did, and as I was wandering around Bulbapedia I came across an article about "Pokemon in the Arab World", I instantly started reading it and fell in shock reading the reason behind the disappearance...
A controversy, but not just any controversy, it's the one caused by something called ignorance. The Saudi Arabian Mufti, who's the highest religious authority in KSA, made a Fatwa (religious saying) claiming that Pokemon promotes gambling and Zionism and that the show and the merchandise should be banned, & ordered Muslims to never let Pokemon-related material into their homes.
The funny thing is, people all over the Middle East completely ignored the show's universal ratings and fell for what the guy said leading to a mass wipe-out of Pokemon across the Middle East.
Some countries like KSA made an official ban of the franchise, other countries like mine didn't, still the franchise disappeared due to concerned parents and shop owners banning Pokemon themselves, and the only TV channels that aired the anime stopped doing so because they followed the Fatwa...
Another funny thing, EVEN if the show had gambling at least; wouldn't Arabic TV channels censor it? How is one thing supposed to slip right under every channel's nose but reach the Mufti? Censorship isn't really a big deal to Arabs, almost all Arabic TV channels are as clean as Disney Junior, all obscene stuff (sometimes from their perspective only) get edited out.
The last funny thing is that a few years later we find shows like Yu-Gi-Oh, Digimon and Bakugan airing on Arabic screens til today even despite their uncanny resemblance to Pokémon & having similar concepts that the Mufti banned years ago.
The whole disappearance is not what saddens me most, but the reasons that lead to it, and the scene we made by our stupidity.
Would you believe me if I told you a Japanese cartoon promotes Zionism?
Would you ban a video-game from your kids' life if you heard something bad about it, or would you check first if it's true?
Take a look at these:
Link 1 (Ahram newspaper website)
Link 2 (BBC website)
Link 3 (BBC website)
Link 4 (Bulbapedia)