Cops go after dolls.
It isn't clear what has prompted the current crackdown, which started around Christmas, before the latest hike in antiWestern hostility. Attacks on various western icons erupt periodically with little obvious rationality and usually die out after several weeks. They are part of what the government calls a response to decadent Western cultural assaults on Islamic values.
A shopkeeper in a toyshop in northern Tehran told Reuters, "About three weeks ago, they [the morality police] came to our shop, asking us to remove all the Barbies."
Iran's religious rulers first declared Barbie, made by a US company, Mattel Inc, un-Islamic in 1996, citing its "destructive cultural and social consequences." There were police visits to toyshops back then telling merchants to dump Barbie. But that campaign soon ended and the doll has generally been openly on sale in Tehran shops.
Shopkeepers are now hiding the leggy, busty blonde behind other toys. They are still selling Barbie, while trying to avoid being closed down by the police.
An officially sponsored anti-Barbie doll, named Sara, was launched in 2002 to much fanfare, but has not proven successful.
Sara and Dara--her brother, not boyfriend--arrived in shops wearing traditional dress, with Sara in a chador.
"My daughter prefers Barbies. She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat," said Farnaz, a 38-year-old mother, adding that she could not find Barbie cartoon DVDs as she was told they were also banned from public sale.
A Tehran toyshop manager said: "We still sell Barbies, but secretly, and put these [Saras] in the window to make the police think we are just selling these kinds of dolls."
The media reports that Iranians will soon be able to buy toy versions of the US spy drone the Islamic Republic captured in December. Models of the bat-wing RQ-170 Sentinel will be mass-produced in a variety of colors, the reports said.