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Homer and Bart join Barbie on banned toys list

An Iranian government-affiliated agency has banned dolls of the Simpsons cartoon characters, who join Barbie and others on a toy blacklist, an independent newspaper reported today.

The report said the Simpsons are banned to avoid the promotion of Western culture. But Superman and Spiderman are allowed, because they helped the "oppressed".

"We do not want to promote this cartoon by importing the toys," Shargh daily quoted Mohammad Hossein Farjoo, secretary of policymaking at the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, as saying.

He did not elaborate on what was wrong with the Simpsons specifically. But he noted that any doll on which genitals are distinguishable, as well as dolls of adults, are banned.

So are toys with speakers that blare out the voices of Western singers, or toy kitchen sets which include glasses for drinking alcoholic beverages.

Mr Farjoo said however that Spiderman and Superman dolls are authorised for sale. "They help oppressed people and they have a positive stance," he said.

The agency is the one which called Barbie dolls a "Trojan horse" in 1996. In January, police said they closed down dozens of toy shops for selling Barbies.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted a pro-Western monarchy, Iran has tried to fight Western cultural influence.

Despite bans on many books, films, satellite TV channels, music, haircuts and fashion from the West, many young people follow Western culture avidly and can often obtain illegal products on the black market.

In 2011 Iran imported 57 million US dollars (£36 million) worth of toys. Officials believe another 20 million dollars (£12.6 million) worth of toys were smuggled across the border the same year.

One quarter of Iran's population of 75 million is under 15 years old.

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