Iranian Official Calls for Barbie Ban

May 01, 2008 01:55 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A top Iranian official said that Mattel’s Barbie dolls and other popular American toys threaten Iranian society, and their circulation must stop.

30-Second Summary

Iranian Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi sent an official letter to Vice President Parviz Davoudi, lamenting the Westernization of Iran and saying Barbie dolls would have “destructive” consequences.

News coverage of Najafabadi’s comments centered around Barbie, but his criticism was not limited to the buxom blonde. “The displays of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter ... as well as the irregular importation of unsanctioned computer games and movies are all warning bells to the officials in the cultural arena,” he said.

Iran, the world’s third-largest toy importer, also enforces a rigid Islamic code of conduct. Women are required to wear head scarves in public, and there are rules for what men and women can and cannot do together.

Iran also attempted to counteract the influence of Western products in 2002 after becoming one of the few Middle Eastern countries where the popularity of American goods like Barbie and Coca-Cola soared. In fact a 2002 Time magazine article quoted a 13-year-old boy as saying, “Why do I only drink Coke? Because if it’s not from here, it represents something better.”

The government responded by releasing the Dara and Sara twins, dolls representing traditional Iranian values and donned in modest attire. But the dolls flopped while Barbies continued to sell.

Cenk Uygur, host of a daily Internet talk show
called The Young Turks, says that Barbies provide a much better tactic than bombs if the U.S. wants to win over Iranian minds: “The Iranians are right to be concerned. Once you introduce American culture to a population, it is infectious. They can’t get it out of their system.”

Headline Link: ‘Iran Blasts “Barbie”'

Background: Iranians take a liking to American goods

Opinion & Analysis: American culture’s effects in Iran

Related Topic: ‘Bestseller in Mideast: Barbie With a Prayer Mat’

Reference: Inside Iran


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