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  • The augmented reality mobile game Pokemon Go is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo taken in Palm Springs, California U.S. July 11, 2016.

    The augmented reality mobile game Pokemon Go is shown on a smartphone screen in this photo taken in Palm Springs, California U.S. July 11, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Egyptian government officials say the game is a national security threat, while the country’s top cleric compared it to alcohol and said it is forbidden.

The viral smartphone game Pokemon Go is a threat to Egypt's national security and is an instrument of a global information war, Hamdi Bakhit, member of Egyptian national security and defense told local website Youm7 Wednesday.

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Bakhit said the game “is among computer programs and viruses that disguise as innocent applications for entertainment while in fact they have other hidden purposes."

He added that the public needs to be "aware of such things and be able to distinguish between what is entertainment and what is a tool for spying on people and countries.”

Meanwhile, Egyptian Cabinet spokesman, Hossam al-Qawish, said Wednesday that all apps downloaded on smartphones will be probed and scrutinized including the app for Pokemon Go to find out if they pose a threat to the country’s national security.

The findings of the probes will be included in a bill being prepared by the Egyptian Parliament that will limit social media networks and ban mobile applications deemed as threats for the country.

In an interview with Al Arabiya Net, the Arabic-language sister website of Al Arabiya English, Hani al-Nazer, former president of the Egyptian National Research Center, described Pokemon Go as a serious threat to one’s safety that “could be used for espionage and information gathering."

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“The game uses the phone owner’s information on Google and helps to know more about his personality and way of living,” he said.

Top clerics have declared Pokemon Go “haraam,” meaning forbidden in Arabic, Gulf News reported Wednesday. Abbas Shuman, deputy head of Al Azhar-Egypt's top Islamic institution, compared the game to alcohol which is also forbidden in Islam.

“This game makes people look like drunkards in the streets and on the roads while their eyes are glued to the mobile screens leading them to the location of the imaginary Pokemon in the hope of catching it,” he said.

Egypt has been run by a coup government since 2014 which went on to unleash a major crackdown on media and social media websites.

Many of the secular activists who led the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests against former President Hosni Mubarak are now in prison or in exile.

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