Lego will stop selling a model of Star Wars character Jabba the Hutt’s Palace over concerns that it resembles a mosque.
Birol Kilic, chairman of the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria, said that the Lego model of Jabba’s Palace resembles an honored mosque, Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, and is culturally insensitive. “This does not belong in children’s bedrooms,” he said Monday. “And the minaret-like tower features machine guns. Children will become insensitive to violence and other cultures.”
Kilic’s organization met with Lego in Munich, Germany last week, after which Lego said they would stop selling the set. It is unknown if Kilic’s group also takes issue with the original depiction of Jabba’s Palace in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi or any other toys based on the fictional structure.
Roar Trangbæk, a Lego spokesman, said on Monday that meeting with Kilic’s group did not influence the company’s decision to stop selling the kit. “The decision to terminate this particular product is not based on any dialogue with the mentioned community,” Trangbæk said. “We regret the misinterpretation but we fully stand behind the product.”
The company also said that as a matter of policy, it does not construct models of religious structures.
On its Twitter account Monday, Lego added that they had planned to phase out production of the Jabba’s Palace model kit at the end of the year anyway.
@danbarker Actually not. We only keep a product in the assortment for a few years and it was scheduled to exit in 2013 from launch.
— The LEGO Group (@LEGO_Group) April 1, 2013
However, in a January press release about the controversy, Lego didn’t mention its plan to phase out the Jabba’s Palace kit.
“The LEGO Group regrets that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to interpret it wrongly,” the statement said. The statement also apparently places onus on the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria for being offended in the first place. If you visit Lego’s Twitter page, they’ve been defending themselves over the controversy non-stop.
What do you think of the Lego Jabba’s Palace controversy? Is the Turkish Cultural Association of Austria overreacting, or should Lego be more careful about what religious structures their toy model kits may look like?