Muslims declare victory in fight over ‘anti-Islamic’ Lego as Denmark promises to axe ‘Jabba’s Palace’ toy
Turkish Muslims have declared victory after toy makers Lego agreed to withdraw a Star Wars product which allegedly depicted a mosque.
Critics claimed that the Jabba’s Palace model, part of Lego’s Star Wars range, was offensive to Muslims as it resembled the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul – one of the world’s most renowned mosques.
The Lego set is based on the home of Jabba the Hutt, a central character in the Star Wars series, who lives in a domed palace, with a separated watchtower.
Toy: The Jabba’s Palace Lego set will cease to be produced from 2014 after the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria group described it as offensive to the Muslim community
The set of blocks featured Jabba the Hutt, a slug-like shisha-smoking alien from the Star Wars films, and an oriental domed building housing rockets and machine guns.
The character of Jabba, which features in the toy aimed at children aged from nine to 14, keeps Princess Leia in chains for use as his personal slave in the Star Wars films.
A statement posted on the organisation’s website referred to Jabba the Hutt as a ‘terrorist’ and said that he ‘likes to smoke hookah and have his victims killed’.
It added: ‘It is clear that the ugly figure of Jabba and the whole scene smacks of racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against Asians and Orientals as people with deceitful and criminal personalities.’
The statement said that the figures in the set are made to resemble ‘terrorists, criminals and murderers’.
The case came to light when a Turkish man expressed his dissatisfaction with the toy after it was purchased for his son by a family member.
Lego initially refused to remove the Jabba’s Palace toy from the shelves claiming it was an entirely fictional creation.
Lego’s Katharina Sasse said:’We regret that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to come to a wrong interpretation, but point out that when designing the product only the fictional content of the Star Wars saga were referred to.’
But following a meeting between Turkish community leaders and Lego executives it was agreed that production of the toy would end from 2014 onwards.
Birol Killic, the president of the TCA, said in a statement: ‘We are very grateful and congratulate Lego on the decision to take Jabba’s Palace out of production.’
Lego was not available for comment yesterday. There was no explanation why the game was not scheduled for immediate withdrawal.
THE HAGIA SOPHIA MOSQUE: CENTURIES OF HISTORY AND UPHEAVAL
The Hagia Sophia was first built around 360AD in the Byzantium capital Constantinople, later Istanbul.
It served as an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral and was the world’s largest for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.
In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered the building converted into a mosque.
Christian symbols such as the bells and altar were removed and many of the mosaics were plastered over. Islamic features, such as the four minarets, were added while it was in the possession of the Ottomans.
It remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years. It re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey.
It is famous for its massive dome and is considered the crowning achievement of Byzantine architecture. Some experts say it ‘changed the history of architecture’.