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Iran institutes Barbie ban

Iran's morality police have issued an official ban on selling Barbies, as part of what the government is calling a "soft war" against Western cultural influences.
Barbie ban 160112Enlarge
Barbie has officially been pulled from Tehran's shelves, as Iran's religious leaders attempt to quash Western cultural influences. (Miguel Villagran/AFP/Getty Images)

Iranians looking for Barbie in toy shops this week will have a hard time finding her. 

Iran's government has officially banned Barbie and Barbie products in an attempt to protect the public from Western influences, which they see as responsible for eroding Islamic values, Reuters reported

The ban comes amidst tough Western sanctions against Iran. 

More from GlobalPost: Iran cracks down on "un-Islamic" dress, which includes necklaces worn by men

Iran's religious rulers have been opposed to Barbie, US company Mattel's wildly popular blonde doll, since 1996, when they first pointed to her "destructive cultural and social consequences." However, Barbie remained on sale and displayed openly on shelves in toy stores around Tehran until a few weeks ago.

"About three weeks ago they (the morality police) came to our shop, asking us to remove all the Barbies," a shopkeeper in a toy shop in Tehran told Reuters on Monday. 

More from GlobalPost: Bye Bye Barbie

The government allowed a launch of approved dolls to counter demand for Barbie in 2002. But the dolls — traditionally-dressed and covered up Sara and her male companion Dara — have not been successful, merchants told Reuters.

"My daughter prefers Barbies," Farnaz, a 38-year-old mother, told Reuters. "She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat."

Farnaz added that she could not find Barbie DVDs in stores, as she was told they were also banned from public sale.

Shopkeepers have been circumventing the law by displaying approved dolls such as Sara and Dara, but keeping Barbies in stock to sell. 

"We still sell Barbies secretly and put these in the window to make the police think we are just selling these kinds of dolls," a 40-year-old Tehran toy shop manager told Reuters. 

In 2003, Saudi Arabia banned and then outlawed Barbie, calling her “offensive to Islam,” AFP reported

Iran has been attempting to rid the country of pervasive Western cultural influence since the Islamic revolution in 1979, by enforcing strict Islamic dress codes and banning Western entertainment.

Iranians will apparently soon be able to buy toy versions of the US spy drone that Iran captured in December in a range of colors, Iranian media reported. Perhaps that will distract shoppers from Barbie. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/iran-institutes-barbie-ban