In the wake of recent accusations of racism, Lego has decided to pull its Jabba the Hutt-themed toy set, but has argued that its decision to discontinue the toy was not based on criticism, but rather the company decided to swap the toy for more current, updated models.
"A few media have reported that the product is being discontinued due to the mentioned criticism. This is, however, not correct," a statement released by the Denmark-based global toy company reads.
"The LEGO Star Wars product Jabba's Palace 9516 was planned from the beginning to be in the assortment only until the end of 2013 as new exciting models from the Star Wars universe will follow," the statement adds.
Earlier in January 2013, the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria accused the Lego company's "Jabba the Hut" toy set as being racist and religiously insensitive.
The cultural center claimed the toy set, called "Jabba's Palace," was insensitive to Muslims because it bore a striking resemblance to Muslim mosques, specifically the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut, the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul, and one small piece which resembles a minaret.
"The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed," the cultural center said in a statement, according to Mass Live.
"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 added.
Additionally, Birol Kilic, chairman of the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria, told NBC News that the toy set promotes violence.
"This does not belong in children's bedrooms," he said. "And the minaret-like tower features machine guns. Children will become insensitive to violence and other cultures."
In George Lucas's "Star Wars" film saga, the character of Jabba the Hutt is an evil slug-like warlord who at one point had a bounty on the story's hero, Hans Solo.
In January, Lego released a separate statement confirming that the Jabba the Hut set is based completely on the fictional characters of the "Star Wars" series.
"The LEGO Group regrets that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to interpret it wrongly, but point out that the design of the product only refers to the fictional content of the Star Wars saga," the statement read.
The Turkish Cultural Association of Austria reportedly met with Lego company representatives in Germany last week, and the association claims the toy company chose to discontinue the toy set due to its offense to some Muslims.
The toy company maintains, however, that the meeting with the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria had no part in its already planned decision to pull the display.
"The decision to terminate this particular product is not based on any dialogue with the mentioned community," Roar Trangbæk, a Lego spokesman, said on Monday, according to NBC News.
"We regret the misinterpretation but we fully stand behind the product," he added.
The "Jabba's Palace" play set, which sells for $120, will be discontinued at the end of 2013.