Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 18:47 UK

Iran calls for ban on Barbie doll

Iran's top prosecutor has called for restrictions in the import of Western toys, saying they have a destructive effect on the country's youth.

The Prosecutor General, Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabadi, said that toys such as Barbie, Batman, and Harry Potter would have negative social consequences.

Mr Najafabadi wants measures taken to protect what he called Iran's Islamic culture and revolutionary values.

Correspondents say Western culture is becoming increasingly popular in Iran.

Mr Najafabadi's comments were made in a letter addressed to Iranian Vice President Parviz Davoudi, and quoted in several Iranian newspapers.

"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 officials in the cultural arena," he wrote, according to a copy of the letter seen by Associated Press.

"The irregular importation of such toys, which unfortunately arrive through unofficial sources and smuggling, is destructive culturally and a social danger," he said.

The BBC's Pam O'Toole in Tehran says the increasing popularity of Western culture has been causing concern in Iran's clerical establishment for years.


Mr Najafabadi, a high-ranking cleric, said Iran was the world's third biggest importer of toys, with many more being smuggled into the country.

In the past, Barbie dolls have been targeted by Iranian authorities bridling at their revealing dress.

In public Iranian women must cover their bodily contours - a rule, correspondents point out, that Barbie conspicuously fails to follow.

"We need to find substitutes to ward off this onslaught, which aims at children and young people whose personality is in the process of being formed," Mr Najafabadi said.

Iran has made previous, unsuccessful, attempts to find substitutes for such toys.

A modestly-dressed version of Barbie and her partner Ken - named Sara and Dara - launched by Iran did not manage to counter the popularity of the Western version.

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