Buddha statues have joined Barbie dolls and characters from "The Simpsons" TV cartoon as banned items in Iran.
Authorities in the conservative Muslim nation are confiscating Buddha statues from shops in 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.
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