Muslim version of Barbie portrays traditional values

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2007, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

Although America is openly despised in the Muslim world, certain American values aren’t. Take Capitalism. Money talks, and it’s multilingual.

Enter Salma, a Muslim version of Barbie, complete with the Muslim version of the Little Black Dress, the black abaya and hajib. According to a Reuters video featured on Yahoo last week, Salma is all the rage in Indonesia, and has taken little Muslim girls’ hearts by storm.

One little girl was quoted, through a translator, as saying, “She’s so cute in her long sleeves and ankle length dress.”

Uh huh.

The Indonesian entrepreneur says her motivation was twofold. One, she noticed the proliferation of American Barbie dolls in the Muslim world and, two, she saw a lack of similar dolls portraying traditional Muslim garb and values. All well and good. But oddly enough, Salma has distinctly western features. She has no obvious non-Anglo ethnicity at all and, in fact, looks just like a Barbie knockoff. She may be peeking out from a hajib, but Barbie by any other name is still Barbie.

As for the desire to create Muslim dolls more appropriate for Muslim girls, I suppose that’s an honorable goal. Little girls learn how to be grownup women through playing with dolls and exploring the female attributes that are most desirable, which is why Barbie is so beloved in America. We all want to grow up to be vapid, materialistic, narcissistic bimbos, with minds as empty as a drum.


It’s not hard to imagine why a Muslim entrepreneur might want to present more honorable goals for young girls (if only we all did), and therefore design a doll representing Muslim values, particularly since a Muslim woman sauntering down the sidewalk in a Barbie-style pink mini-skirt and bikini top would likely be shot on sight in some areas of the world.

It was a business-savvy call, because Salma is flying off the shelves in Indonesia. Before long, she’ll surely pop up in other parts of the Muslim world, in all sorts of new variations, like all the Barbie variations -- Malibu Barbie, Cinderella Barbie, etc. Salma won’t be far behind. Neither will all the Muslim parents buying Salma for their kids.

How do you say KA-CHING in Arabic?

Little girls in Afghanistan will just love Taliban Salma, covered head to toe in a burqa. Unfortunately, Taliban Salma isn’t actually allowed to be taken out of her box unless accompanied by Taliban Abdul, who will put a bullet through her head should a breeze pick up her skirt and reveal a dainty ankle.

Hamas Salma comes complete with a checkered head scarf and a sporty little dynamite-filled vest. Pull her string and she shrieks “Death to Israel! Death to America!” and explodes into a million little pink pieces. Sadly, Hamas Salma will not be rewarded with a place in paradise, where she can have her way with 70 virgins and then toss them aside like used toilet paper. That reward is reserved only for Hamas Hassan. Hamas Salma just ends up in the trash.

Then there’s Islamic Jihad Salma. She masquerades in typical western clothing while she takes advantage of the American university system and earns a biochemistry degree, only to return to her own country where she takes what she has learned and helps Islamic Jihad Tariq construct and detonate a dirty bomb to kill every man, woman and child living in Cleveland. As a reward for her intellectual contribution, she is forced to return to living her life under a tablecloth for the remainder of her days, and is beaten severely if she objects.

And then we have the African version of Muslim Salma. She comes complete with a thick diaper to collect the constant leakage of urine and bodily fluids because when her labia and clitoris were hacked off in cold blood as a young girl, the wounds unfortunately healed badly, leaving her genitalia not only mutilated but functionally and sexually useless. African Muslim Salma, like her real-life counterpart, gets tossed aside because she no longer holds any sexual value to African Muslim Kamal and besides, she smells awful.

And soon to be released: Tribal Salma. She comes with flexible legs that can be pulled sideways, because when her brother commits what the tribal elders deem to be a perversion, his transgression is mitigated by pinning Tribal Salma down so all the men in the village can rape her repeatedly. And, just to appeal to the preteen set, Tribal Salma is only 12.

Think the dolls are offensive? How about the real thing! Let’s get offended about that! No, it’s not the mainstream Muslim world. But the mainstream Muslim world turns its head. It doesn’t object. Silence is complicity.

To those Muslims who are offended by this column, I say this: The outrageous abuse of Muslim women offends ME. Deeply. How dare Muslims think they’re the only ones entitled to feel offended.

There is possibly nothing more offensive than the rampant oppression, torture, mutilation and assassination suffered by Muslim women worldwide. It is disgusting, it is wrong, and it is unacceptable in any civilized society. And it should generate one hell of a lot more uproar from the Muslim community than a few cartoons.