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Checkmate: Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Declares War on Chess

Chess pieces – left to right: king, rook, queen, pawn, knight and bishop. Photograph by Alan Light, from Wikipedia, used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Chess pieces, from left: king, rook, queen, pawn, knight and bishop. Photograph by Alan Light, from Wikipedia, used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Saudi Arabia's grand mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Sheikh has declared war on chess. The strategy game, he said in a reply in a television show in which viewers ask religious questions, is a waste of time, encourages gambling and causes hatred between players.

The video, uploaded on YouTube, created a storm of reactions on Twitter, where people poked jokes about the fatwa (religious edict) and life in Saudi Arabia, where many everyday activities people around the world take for granted are banned, starting with the ban on the driving of women to the prohibition which bans cinemas.

Under the hashtag #مفتي_المملكه_يحرم_لعبه_الشطرنج, which translates to “The Mufti of Saudi Arabia bans chess”, many took turns ridiculing Saudi Arabia for its long list of prohibitions.

Naser Al Shehali writes:

What does he know about chess? He thinks chess is gambling just like he thinks the cinema is a disco!!

Moony tweets:

He will expand it and prohibit all of life as it is a waste of time and effort and money. It would make more sense if we die.

And Hatem jokes:

It seems that the Mufti of Saudi Arabia has been a loser in this game since he was a child and has become annoyed because of his loss so he banned it

Others complained about the dwindling opportunities for entertainment in the absolute conservative monarchy, where the state religion is Wahabbism, the alma mater of jihadist group ISIS:

Dema writes:

We notice that all forms of entertainment in this country is forbidden. Anything that makes you enjoy life is not allowed!

Noor Almosawii adds:

This things that are halal (religiously allowed) can now be counted on one hand

And others widened the circle, complaining about other aspects in life in Saudi Arabia, which they say clergymen turn a blind eye to:

What should be forbidden? Chess or oppression and tyranny?

And this Twitter user has a question:

Chess is forbidden, but the blood of 8,000 innocent civilians in Yemen, which is bombarded, is …

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