- (Photo: Reuters/Handout)
The "Simpsons" are the latest characters banned in Iran, a result of the country's crackdown on Western influences.
"We don't want to promote this cartoon by importing the toys," said Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, secretary of the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. Any toy featuring the Simpsons: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, is to be removed from shelves immediately.
Other notable figures included in the ban are Barbie dolls, which have been described as "Trojan horses" by the Institute. Just last month, Barbie dolls were removed from shelves in a "new phase" of crackdowns against "manifestations of Western culture," according to an unnamed police official.
The dolls, officials said, were un-Islamic and did not promote the traditional family values. Police began raiding toy stores and removing Barbie dolls in 2002 but eventually stopped. Children, however, still requested the doll, and it has since found its way back into the country.
Iran began banning Western influences, including books, TV, music and dolls, after a revolution in 1979 and has been working to develop a stronger Islamic country.
Some Iranians, however, are working to smuggle in the goods, knowing how popular they are. According to reports, Iran imported $57 million in toys in 2011. With a younger demographic, the country's black market is wildly popular.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, though, are Spiderman and Superman dolls. The comic heroes are allowed on the open market as officials claim they are good influences. "They help oppressed people and they have a positive stance," explained Farjoo.
"The Simpsons" is an American cartoon that debuted in 1989 and is the longest-running American sitcom. The show has won several awards but has also drawn severe criticism for its often satirical views on religious matters as well as politics and personal issues.