Racism is sadly alive and well in the world, but in a LEGO Star Wars toy set?
Have a look at the picture above: That’s LEGO’s rendition of “Jabba’s Palace,” as in Jabba the Hutt, the giant alien slug-creature that hassled Han Solo and his pals over a snarling sarlacc pit in Return of the Jedi. According to the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria, it’s also a racially prejudiced riff on at least two revered religious structures, reports The Telegraph.
TCCA apparently believes the toy set resembles the Hagia Sophia, originally a structure in Istanbul that began life as an Orthodox basilica in 360, became a mosque in 1453 and was eventually converted to a museum in 1935; TCCA further alleges it resembles the 7th century Jami’ al-Kabir mosque in Beirut. What’s more, writes TCCA according to a Google Translate version of the page (originally in German):
It is clear that the figure of the ugly villain Jabba and the whole scene [exemplifies] racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against … Orientals and Asians as sneaky and criminal personalities (slaveholders, leaders of criminal organizations, terrorists, criminals, murderers, human sacrifice)…
A picture posted on TCCA’s website shows the toy structure with pictures of the Hagia Sophia mosque and red connector arrows drawing comparisons between the toy palace’s dome and the mosque’s, and suggesting the accompanying toy tower resembles a minaret. TCCA thus calls on LEGO to, among other things, “apologize publicly for the violation of religious and cultural feelings.”
LEGO’s actual toy description sounds innocuous enough: “Rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt’s desert palace! Avoid the trap door and roof-mounted missles [sic] to free Han Solo from Jabba’s Palace, with poseable Jabba and all-new Salacious Crumb.”
Not so, says TCCA on its site — alleging that the Gamorrean guard in the tower represents an Islamic prayer leader “as a criminal with an ax and rifle;” that the tower contains “several assault rifles” (presumably implicating its residents as warlike); and that “[the] terrorist Jabba the Hutt likes to smoke a hookah and have his victims killed.”
TCCA may care to check its aim: LEGO Jabba’s Palace is based on the detailed sets and backdrops created for Return of the Jedi, after all. Whatever George Lucas was channeling in the original design, the palace, the tower and Jabba himself have been around for decades.