The Turkish community has accused Lego of racism over a Star Wars toy allegedly depicting the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul, one of the world's most renowned mosques, calling for official apologies from the toy manufacturer.
The Turkish community members claim that the Jabba’s Palace toy, with its domed roof, takes its design from Istanbul’s famous mosque and the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut, and that the separate watchtower resembles a minaret. Moreover, the slug-like toy creatures are associated with terrorism, slavery, murder and human sacrifice.
The statement posted on the organization’s official website refers to Jabba the Hutt as a “terrorist” who “likes to smoke hookah and have his victims killed”. Moreover, as many of the Lego figures carry weapons, the Turkish organization also urged parents “not to buy toys of war or toys of discrimination” as the model goes against the “peaceful coexistence of different cultures in Europe” and cannot be appropriate “for children between 9 and 14 years old”.
Dr. Melissa Günes, General Secretary of the Turkish Cultural Community, sent an official complaint calling for an apology from Lego for its cultural insensitivity. She added that the organization is planning legal actions in Austria, Germany and Turkey against Lego if the community doesn’t get a satisfactory response.
In its turn, Lego insists that this Star Wars toy “does not reflect any actually existing buildings, people, or the mentioned mosque” and are based on characters from the movie.
“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”, said Katharina Sasse, Lego's spokesperson.
The Hagia Sofia, a converted Christian basilica famed for its massive domed roof, is one of the most famous mosques in the world and served Istanbul’s Muslim community for over 500 years before becoming a museum in 1943. It is also regarded as one of the finest, and largest examples, of Byzantine architecture.
Voice of Russia, Daily Mail, UK Telegraph