The Iranian morality police are cracking down on a decades-old Barbie doll ban, claiming the classic American toy is threatening Islamic values.
As tension between the U.S. and Iran continue to rise, Shopkeepers told Reuters that the religious officers are coming into their shops and demanding the leggy blonde Mattel dolls be taken off the shelves.
About three weeks ago they [the morality police] came to our shop, asking us to remove all the Barbies, said a toy shop owner in northern Tehran.
The fatwa was first issued against Barbie in 1996 because she had destructive cultural and social consequences. The ruling was largely ignored, however, and Barbie was stocked in toy stores across Iran until recently. Another order was issued about three weeks ago, Reuters reported.
Iran has created its own version of Barbie and Ken in 2002. Sara, a female, and Dara, a male, are state-approved dolls that are a little stockier than the Mattel toys and wear different types of traditional dress. Sara, Dara's sister, obeys the Iranian rule in which women must cover their hair and wear loosely-fitted clothing.
Sara and Dara's proponents welcomed the new option. I think every Barbie doll is more harmful than an American missile, toy seller Masoumeh Rahimi told The Associated Press in 2009.
Farnaz, a 38-year-old mother looking for Barbie cartoon DVDs, was less critical of the Mattel version.
My daughter prefers Barbies. She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat, Farnaz told Reuters.
Another Barbie knock-off, Fulla, looks more like the svelte original and has similar proportions but wears a traditional head scarf and comes with a felt pink prayer mat. Although the Fulla logo even takes ont he same font as Mattel's Barbie, it is made by a Syria-based company. The New York Times reported in 2005 it quickly became a best-seller.
Children will have more alternatives to play with soon. Replicas of the downed U.S. drone that Iran has been flaunting on state television since December will reportedly be mass produced in a variety of colors.
Saudia Arabia has also banned Mattel's Barbies for wearing innappropriate clothes and being a symbol of the shameful west.