TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Buddha statues have joined Barbie dolls and characters from “The Simpsons” TV cartoon as banned items in the conservative Muslim nation.
Authorities are confiscating Buddha statues from shops in the Iranian capital, Tehran, to stop the promotion of Buddhism in the country, according to a report Sunday in the independent Arman daily.
Iran has long fought against items, such as Barbie toys, to defuse Western influence, but this appears to be the first time that Iranian authorities are showing an opposition to symbols from the East.
The newspaper quoted Saeed Jaberi Ansari, an official for the protection of Iran’s cultural heritage, as calling the Buddha statues symbols of “cultural invasion.” He said authorities will not permit a specific belief to be promoted through such items. Ansari did not say how many Buddhas had been seized, but that the “cleansing” would continue.
Some Iranians buy Buddha’s statues to decorate their homes and cars. Most are made in China and come from Iranian free-trade zones in the Persian Gulf.
“As I understand, none of customers cared about Buddhism, they only bought it for decoration,” said Reza Sanaei, a shopkeeper who sells the statues.