Oddly Enough

Iran official sees "destructive" Barbie influence

Shoppers look at Barbie & Tanner toys at a store in Beijing August 15, 2007. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Imports of Barbie dolls and other Western toys will have destructive cultural and social consequences in Iran, the Islamic Republic’s top prosecutor was quoted as saying on Monday.

Iran’s conservative clerical establishment often rails against the perceived dangers of U.S.-inspired culture and consumerism, branding it “Westoxication.”

But young Iranians are often keen consumers of such music, films and other goods from the West. Iconic toy brands can be bought in children’s shops in the capital Tehran and elsewhere.

“The appearance of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and ... computer games and movies are all a danger warning to the officials in the cultural arena,” said Prosecutor General Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi in a letter to Vice President Parviz Davoudi published in the Mardom Salari daily.

Najafabadi, a high-ranking cleric, said Iran was the world’s third biggest importer of toys and suggested this posed a threat to the “personality and identity” of the new generation.

“The unrestrained entry of this sort of imported toys ... will bring destructive cultural and social consequences in their wake,” he wrote.

He added many toys were smuggled into Iran and accused importers of concentrating on profits at the expense of cultural values.

Iran and the United States have not had diplomatic ties since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution when the U.S.-backed shah was toppled.

The two old foes are now embroiled in a deepening standoff over nuclear work the West fears is aimed at making bombs but which Tehran says is aimed at generating peaceful electricity.

Reporting by Hashem Kalantari; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Randy Fabi