Saddam Hussein Tried Banning Children’s Franchise ‘Pokemon’ Because Name of Character Means ‘Be a Jew’ in Arabic Dialect
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein tried banning the popular children’s franchise Pokemon, since some of the characters’ names were deemed offensive when translated into a local Arabic dialect, The Sun reported.
Saddam’s spies were suspicious of the popular Japanese cartoon, toy and video-game franchise, after it “flooded the market” in 2001, according to top-secret documents obtained by US forces in 2004.
The franchise centers on fictional creatures called Pokemon, which humans, known as Pokémon Trainers, catch and teach to battle one another. Two of the most popular Pokemon creatures are Pikachu, a mouse-like creature with electric powers, and Growlith, who looks like a puppy and possesses fire powers.
The General Security Directorate — a domestic force in Iraq — wrote a letter to Saddam saying that some of the names of the characters have multiple meanings and are insulting when translated into Syriac, a minority language in Iraq.
They claimed that “Pokemon” means “I am a Jew;” “Charmander” means “God is weak;”and “Magma” means “God is stupid.” They also said “Pikachu” means “Be a Jew,” and “Growlith” can be translated into “God is stingy.”
In their letter to Saddam, the security force said, “We have become aware of a phenomenon that spread quickly in the Muslim world and among our children. Our sons have become attached to this phenomenon.”
Pokemon was created in 1995.