Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? is 'the work of Satan'

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The Independent Online

Muslim authorities in Egypt have issued a fatwa, or religious decree, against a local equivalent of the TV gameshow Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

The Supreme Mufti office in Cairo, Egypt's highest religious authority, denounced the show as a sinful form of gambling, calling on all Muslims to avoid it as an abomination and the work of Satan, the BBC reported from Cairo.

A trailer for the Egyptian version of the show, Who Will Win a Million? shows the presenter standing in front of the pyramids at Giza while men carry suitcases of money behind him.

Gambling is illegal in Islamic law, and the fatwa quotes a verse from the Koran to this effect.

Although upmarket hotels in Cairo have their own casinos, only foreigners are allowed to use them.

Millionaire is one of several prime-time phone-in programmes running on Egyptian television. Muslims say it encourages gambling because competitors have to spend money on phone calls to answer a series of questions without knowing if they will win the chance to go on the show for a shot atwinning a million Egyptian pounds (about £177,000).

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? began in Britain in 1998. Since then the format has been exported to 80 countries and won an estimated 100 million viewers.

There have been 22 winners of the top prize, two in Britain, six in America, four in Japan, two in France and a single contestant in Israel, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, India, Germany, Belgium and Holland.

The format has suffered in some countries, though, with audiences in Russia gaining a reputation for giving deliberately wrong answers under the "ask the audience" lifeline to stop contestants reaching the top prize.

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