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MIDDLE EAST: Virtual Muslim world bans drinking, sex

February 14, 2009 | 11:44 am

Muxlim

Ever wanted to experience life in the Muslim world but didn't have enough money to fly to Cairo?

The first-ever virtual version of the Muslim world was recently launched online.

Muxlim Pal lets you adopt an animated avatar and interact with others online in a virtual world governed by the rules of Islam.

You can shop, socialize in a beach cafe and, of course, pray at a mosque.

Aimed at Muslims and non-Muslims, the website aims to foster understanding and communication between East and West.

According to Finnish-based company Muxlim.com, the website hopes to bring Muslim communities worldwide closer, especially Muslim youth in the West.

"We are not a religious site, we are a site that is focused on the lifestyle," said Mohamed El-Fatatry, founder of Muxlim.com, in an interview with the BBC.

"This is for anyone who is remotely interested in the Muslim culture and the Muslim lifestyle," he added.

In another interview with Agence France-Presse, El-Fatatry estimated that 98% of Muxlim.co's users are Muslims. He said the site had about 1.5 million visitors a month from 190 countries, half from the United States.

The virtual Muslim world bans drugs, drinking, sexual behavior, killing and other crimes, making it different from such popular virtual worlds as Second Life and The Sims.

Such limitations ensure that the game does not breach Muslim restrictions and appeals to all age groups. "We are not trying to segregate anybody; we are trying to build a platform for Muslims to have a voice and dialogue with others," El-Fatary told AFP.

Joining the site is free of charge and registered users get some virtual money at the start to pamper their character with clothes, food and even decorations for their rooms. More services and premier features can be acquired as users swap real cash for virtual money.

Developers hope to add several other features by the time of the virtual world's full launch later this year.

-- Khaled Hijab and Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: From the website of Muxlim Pal. 

P.S. Get news from the Middle East in your mailbox every day. The Los Angeles Times distributes a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can subscribe by logging in at the website here, clicking on the box for "L.A. Times updates" and then clicking on the "World: Mideast" box.

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