- (Photo: www.thebricktestament.com)
The famous toy maker Lego is at the center of a growing controversy after one of its new Star Wars toy sets was accused of resembling a famous mosque in Turkey.
A statement produced by the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria accused Lego's Jabba the Hut's palace toy set is racist and religiously insensitive.
The Lego toy is thought to resemble several famous mosques in the Middle East including the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul and the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut. The toy set also comes with a tower that is thought to be a minaret.
Given the supposed similarities to these sacred Muslim places of worship, they claims the toy set and the perceived negative stereotypes aim to undermine the dominant faith in the region.
"The terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed," read a statement posted on the organization's website. "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 Hagia Sofia is a converted Christian basilica and is known for its famous domed roof and many historians regard it as the best example of Byzantine architecture. It is widely considered one of the most famous mosques in the world and was in operation for over half a millennia before it was converted to a museum in 1943.
A public relations manager representing Lego denied that the toy set resembled anything other than the Star Wars version.
"The Lego Star Wars product Jabba´s Palace does not reflect any actually existing buildings, people, or the mentioned mosque … the Lego mini-figures are all modeled on characters from the movie," Katharina Sasse said in a statement.
"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," Sasse added.