CAIRO - The Austrian Turkish community has accused the popular line of construction toys Lego of racism after the release of a new Star Wars model that resembles historic Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul.
What Lego are recommending parents buy as a Christmas gift? The answer is pure racism, the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria said in a statement cited by The Huffington Post on Thursday, January 24.
The group was referring to a newly released Jabba the Hutt set.
It accused the giant toy manufacturer of modeling Jabba; the Star Wars villain's palace, on the famous Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul and a minaret, adding that the firm is linking evil to Muslim places of worship.
On its website the group in Austria has posted a photo of the box plus an image of the mosque, saying the roof was a 1:1 copy of the roof of the mosque.
It also complains that the muezzin is portrayed as a criminal with an axe and machinegun while machine guns are stored in the minaret.
The group added the model is similar to the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut and adds the Combination of temple building and bunker facilities where shots are fired cannot be appropriate for children between 9 and 14 years old.
One would expect more empathy and responsibility from a manufacturer of toys that has produced toys and models that are good for teaching for decades.
The community called on Lego to apologize for affronting religious and cultural feelings.
They added that they were considering legal action against Lego, urging parents not to buy toys of war or toys of discrimination.
Lego has rejected the accusations, denying any link between Jabba's Palace and the mosque.
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, Lego spokeswoman Katharina Sasse said.
Sasse added that it has been difficult to recreate film scenes with small stones.
The Lego Star Wars product Jabba's Palace does not reflect any actually existing buildings, people, or the mentioned mosque, she said.
The Lego mini-figures are all modeled on characters from the movie.
A church for over 1,000 years, and a mosque for 500 more, Hagia [Aya] Sophia is the most spectacular building in Istanbul.
The church was turned into a mosque after Constantinople was taken by Sultan Mehmet II in 1453.
Extraordinary masters of the Ottoman Empire architects repaired the building extensively in the 16th century, providing greater exterior support for the dome and the walls. Minarets were also added.