Some Turkish leaders are offended by a Lego Star Wars set, claiming it resembles a famous mosque.
The Turkish Cultural Community of Austria said in a statement that a Lego set of Jabba's Palace from the Star Wars series is racist because it appears to closely resemble the Hagia Sophia (formerly a mosque) in Istanbul, the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut and a minaret and therefore reinforces negative stereotypes about the Middle East, according to the Austrian Times. The statement threatened legal action against Lego if it does not withdraw the toys.
"The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed," a statement on their website reads, according to the Telegraph. The statement also claims that the characters look sinister and do evil things, such as keep slaves and commit murder.
(Scroll down for a picture of the Lego set)
Lego denies the charges. "The Lego Star Wars product Jabba's Palace does not reflect any actually existing buildings, people, or the mentioned mosque," Katharina Sasse, a spokesperson for Lego, told the Telegraph.
Jabba the Hutt, for the uninitiated, is one of Star Wars' villains. He kept Han Solo frozen, tried to kill Luke Skywalker and, for a time, kept Princess Leia as his slave (fans will never forget her gold bikini). Luke and his allies ultimately freed Han Solo and Princess Leia and killed Jabba and his minions.
This is not Lego's first brush with racism accusations either. The artist Chris McVeigh noticed in 2010 that almost all non-white Lego faces scowl, according to Wired. After he raised the issue, Wired found that Hollywood may be to blame because the toy sets based on movies highlight the racism already apparent in Hollywood casting.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly implied that Chris McVeigh accused Lego of racism. McVeigh observed that many of the non-white Lego faces scowl, prompting Wired to observe that that could be a function of racism already apparent in Hollywood casting.
Check out Lego's depiction of Jabba's Palace below:
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