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Diritto di critica | June 5, 2023

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Turkish Muslim community in Austria against children toy: "Anti-Islamic" - Diritto di critica

Turkish Muslim community in Austria against children toy: “Anti-Islamic”

legoThe Turkish Islamic community is celebrating its victory for having a children toy removed from the market. The giant Danish company Lego has decided to withdraw a Star Wars toy, “Jabba’s Palace”, after major protests on behalf of the Community which accused Lego of featuring a mosque-like building and an alien smoking hookah.

Melissa Gunes, spokeswoman for Austria’s Turkish Cultural Association said: “The game is pedagogical dynamite. It depicts Muslims as terrorists”. She also added that  Jabba is represented as a” terrorist who likes to smoke hookah and have his victims killed”.

In addition the Turkish protested that the palace was extremely similar to Istanbul’s Haja Sophia’s mosque and the tower looked very much like the minaret of Jami al Kabir’s mosque in Beirut.

Lego initially refused to comply with the Turkish Community’s request since the toy was just a faithful reproduction of the movie, but it later turned out that the Danish company agreed to finish its production starting in 2014.

Lego executives and Turkish community representatives met in Munich and after the meeting the president of the Turkish Cultural Association, Birol Killic, said.” We are very grateful and congratulate Lego on the decision to take Jabba’s Palace out of production”.

Lego later criticized the fact that some media reported the fact that the company had decided to withdraw the product as a consequence of the TCA protest and claimed on their website that “The LEGO Star WarsTM 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 presumed resemblances claimed by the Turkish community seem to be quite doubtful if not “forced” and maybe influenced by a good dose of susceptibility.

If we observe the content of the box, it is evident how “Jabba’s Palace” could vaguely resemble many other places; it could be a spaceship on top of a flat roof; it could be an old Albanian bunker or even the dome of Rome’s Pantheon. The tower does not have any specific elements that recall a minaret and it could very well be compared to any bell tower or to a castle tower.

The character “Jabba” who, according to the Turkish community, seems to be represented as a “terrorist addicted to hookah”, looks more like a huge lizard more easily found in a comic book or, with more realistic features, in some tropical forest; definitely not inside an al-Qaeda base. In addition the other characters of the box are far away from the common “terrorist stereotype”.

Another curious issue is the fact that the Turkish community considered offensive the fact that Jabba smokes Hookah, as if its use automatically makes someone Muslim. It would be interesting to know what those Muslims who do not smoke hookah feel about this, since smoking is not well seen among many Muslims.

Although, going beyond the doubtful resemblance, there are two main points which seem to have slipped away from the protesters: first of all, the characters are invented, they belong to a movie and do not exist in reality, consequently they cannot be Muslim. Secondly being Muslim is not a synonym of terrorist.  Hence is this really a great victory for the TCA?