Turkish Muslims butthurt about Lego’s Jabba the Hut castle; file suit for defamation

Never underestimate the ability of offended Muslims to make trouble. My friend Florian called my attention to a piece in the Austrian press about, of all things, the Lego game “Jabba the Hutt’s castle” (below).

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Well, right off the bat you can see the problem here: the castle looks just like the Hagia Sofia mosque in Istanbul! OMG! So the Turkish community in Austria is threatening legal action for this obvious calumny against religion.

The photo below shows the clear resemblance as descried by the offended Turkish people (I am assuming from the news report that the offense is largely based on a perceived insult to Islam). Since I can read and speak German a bit, I’ve translated the words in the photo below (click to enlarge).

Top right: “OBJECTION.  What is going on with Lego parents regarding Christmas gifts for their kids? PEDAGOGICAL EXPLOSIVES?

First arrow from the minaret: “The muezzin as a criminal with and axe and machine gun.”

Arrow from the dome: “1:1: the same roof as the mosque.”

Arrow from circle in lower left corner: “Machine gun in the minaret?”

Bottom right: “Star Wars game for children 9-14 years.”

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I don’t have time for a full translation of the Austrian complaint, so I just put some of it through Google Translate and touched it up a bit. Here’s what’s going down:

On closer inspection, the fully assembled Lego house and the associated tower are seen to be a 1:1 imitation of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul or the Jami al-Kabir Mosque in Beirut and a minaret. The figure in the tower (Gamorreanische guard) resembles a prayer leader (as a criminal with an axe and machine gun!). In the tower there are several machine guns. Could the model also resemble not just a mosque, but also Carolingian Cathedral, the Pantheon in Rome, a Catholic Church, a Hindu or Buddhist temple, or a Tibetan palace?

Indeed, Jabba’s Palace in Star Wars was also peopled by (pseudo-Buddhist) monks. In short, the model resembles several religious buildings, whether church, mosque, synagogue or temple. The terrorist Jabba the Hut likes to smoke a hookah and kill his victims. It is clear that the figure of the ugly villain Jabba and the whole scene exudes racial prejudice and vulgar insinuations against the Orientals and Asians, seeing them as sneaky and criminal personalities (slaveholders, leaders of criminal organizations, terrorists, criminals, murderers, human sacrifice).

Also frightening is the red and black devil grimacing on the top right of the box: an obvious signal that this game should not be under the tree on Christmas Eve. The Turkish cultural community of Austria reserves and legal action considered in Germany to DStGB § 300 sedition, in Austria by § 283 of the Criminal Code to constitute hate speech against Turkey and will file a complaint with the relevant prosecutor in the form of a statement of facts against LEGO. It constitutes an incitement in the Federal Republic of Germany, § 130 paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code defines as follows: Whoever acts in a manner that is likely to disturb the public peace by inciting hatred against a national, racial, religious or ethnic background of their group, against the population or against an individual because of his membership of a aforementioned group, or part of the population, or attacks or abuses the human dignity of others by attacking a subset of a population or an individual because of his membership of in that subset, or engages in malicious belittling and slandering of that group of individuals, can be punished with imprisonment from three months to five years.

OMG, they’re gonna send Lego to jail! Maybe he’ll occupy a cell next to the teddy bear named Mohamed.

80 Comments

  1. truthspeaker
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    There are two “t”s in Hutt.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      Fixed, thanks. Shows what I know about Star Wars.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        If I had seen the movies as an adult I would likely have thought they were nothing special. But I was seven years old when I saw the first one, and it was awesome.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted January 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        i.e. You know more than you need to know about Star Wars. (I’ve still only seen about 1 + 1/3 + 1/2 of the movies, and I’m not sure which ones apart from the original.)

      • Posted January 25, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

        It’s still wrong in the title…

        /@

  2. logicophilosophicus
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    I suppose Christians might reply that they built the Hagia Sophia, and it was a church for over a thousand years before Muslims captured Byzantium. Not a Muslim design, then.

    • Bob Carlson
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      This is discussed in the The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia–and How It Died, by John Philip Jenkins. He said:

      Contantinople’s Hagia Sophia looks exactly like what the West expects a mosque to be, but of course its basic structure–complete with great dome–was completed in the sixth century, when it was meant to be a definitive statement of Christian architecture. Other influences came into play in the design of mosques, especially from Persia, but the major sources were Christian.

      Elsewhere he said:

      Mosques look as they do because their appearance derives from that of Eastern Christian churches in the early days of Islam. Likewise, most of the religious practices of the believers within those mosques stem from the example of Eastern Christians, including the prostrations that appear so alien to modern Westerners. The severe self-denial of Ramadan was originally based on the Eastern practice of Lent.

      In other words, Islam derives from the practices and beliefs of those Eastern Christians.

      • gravelinspector
        Posted January 24, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

        That was the essence of my initial response to the story too.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

      Last I’d heard, Hagia Sophia (later Aya Sofya) had been turned into a museum and that it was no longer allowed to use it as a place of worship. Maybe objection to desecrating a museum is something to be admired (of course, that’s not what this nutcase has in mind).

      • Rootboy
        Posted January 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        It’s been a museum rather than a place of worship since 1935. I went there last June. It features a mix of Islamic and restored Christian artwork (which had been covered up while it was a mosque). And one seriously impressive dome. Aesthetically I like much more than any western European cathedral.

        • logicophilosophicus
          Posted January 25, 2013 at 12:44 am | Permalink

          Re the artwork, happens all the time. The murals in Shakespeare’s parish church (Holy Trinity, Stratford) were whitewashed over when the puritans clamped down on fun.

  3. gbjames
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Wait until someone notices that the figure in background looks JUST LIKE Mohammed.

    • marycanada FCD
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Punishment for that is death, is it not?

      • gbjames
        Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. By light saber.

      • gluonspring
        Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Probably why they are afraid to point it out. It’s not Mohammed until someone says so, right?

        • gbjames
          Posted January 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          Oh, oh! Now I’ve done it!

  4. FitzRoy
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Is this a Poe?

  5. @eightyc
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    lol.

    Or Jaba may actually be their God!

  6. Jack
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Pffft…Hagia Sophia wasn’t even built by the Turks, it wasn’t dven a mosque initially, it was a church, and guess what: it’s not even a mosque now! It’s a MUSEUM! Damn butthurt Turks.

  7. Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm – the toy looks pretty much like Jabba’s Palace in the movie – just do a google images search [I don't think comments don't accept pictures] One picture’s caption:

    JABBA THE HUTT’S PALACE, TATOOINE. This monumental structure in stone and metal is composed of three cylindrical towers; located at the fringe of the Northern Dune Sea on the planet of Tatooine, it was originally built as a monastery by the B’omarr Monks. The palace’s hulking mass dominates the surroundings and is home to torture chambers, droid pool, storage area for frozen enemies and Rancor pit. Not universally admired, C3P0 commented: ‘That is scarcely what I would call a palace, Artoo. It looks more like an iron foundry’.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Lucas’s backdrop designers may well have based it off existing buildings – it wouldn’t be the first or last time!

      But if that’s the case, the time to raise a stink would have been 1983.

    • Posted January 25, 2013 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      My first thought, too.

      /@

  8. Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    This is absolutely outrageous. Jabba’s Palace WITHOUT a Rancor?? Or Boba Fett! The claimants deserve to win their case against Lego as the product clearly doesn’t meet its specification.

    …wait, that’s not why they’re filing suit?

    …they’re filing suit because it’s kind of dome shaped? Somebody needs to send these people a Lego starter kit, they will surely get a kick out of it with such active imaginations.
    Sheesh.

  9. Hempenstein
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Prob’ly doesn’t help that LEGO is a Danish company.

    • gluonspring
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I see a Depict Mohammed in Legos contest in the future… Speaking of which, someone should do a Brick Koran to parallel the Brick testament.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha!

  10. Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    To quote Einstein (from memory, look it up on the Web if you want the right quote). There are only two things that are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. With the universe, it’s not sure.

    Another proof.

    And congratulations to you (and google), the translation is good.

    Being a German I have good hope that this lawsuit tanks…

  11. Sunny
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    “Maybe he’ll occupy a cell next to the teddy bear named Mohamed.”


    And eat a pineapple also named Mohammed.

  12. Hoem
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t get why they keep calling it a “1:1 imitation of the Hagia Sophia”.

    The Lego figure would fit comfortably in a shoe box. Now, I’ve never seen the Hagia Sophia, so I don’t know how large it is, but I’ve been led to believe it’s somewhat larger than that.

    If they’d called it a 1:20 imitation, or a 1:200 imitation, it would have sounded more plausible. But 1:1?

    • Hoem
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      I should add: never seen the Hagia Sophia in real life. I’ve seen pictures before, but scale is hard to tell.

  13. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    Jabba the Hutt’s palace is like a Turkish mosque, so Jabba is like an imam (or ayatollah or a mullah or whatever)? If the shoe fits…

  14. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    …an obvious signal that this game should not be under the tree on Christmas Eve…

    Bill O’Reilly alert: Islam has now picked sides in the War on Christmas.

  15. Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Yet another example of the lengths some theists will go to to find things to be offended about. What a bunch of nonsense. So are we opposed to all dome shaped toy structures? How about anything with a free standing tower? Ok, the Muhammad cartoon I can see. Even the video from a few months back… an over exaggeration in response to be sure but Ican understand the objection. This though? Surely this is a reach even for the shrill whining censors of theism!

    • suwise3
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      As an AFOL (adult fan of Lego) I say, “From my cold, dead fingers.”

      However, I did notice a stick-on light in my closet did have that exact dome shape. I will remove it immediately.

  16. luminiferousethan
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    “Also frightening is the red and black devil grimacing on the top right of the box”

    That’s Darth Maul. A bad guy. A very popular character from the franchise and the only cool character from Episode 1. I guess it’s tough telling all the fictional characters apart.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 25, 2013 at 3:36 am | Permalink

      Especially if you have a life.

  17. Michael Fisher
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I believe this “blasphemy” was noticed over Christmas. It would not surprise me that the Muslim radicals have held off until now so that protests can reach fever pitch next week ~ perfect timing for the Spielwarenmesse International Toy Fair, Nürnberg which begins on the 30th January

    It’s the biggest trade show in the toy industry world & no doubt LEGO will be there…

    Lots of soft targets everywhere with all those LEGO stores scattered about

    [Also there's playworld Middle East, Dubai in March]

  18. Daryl
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    So does this mean the Brick Qu’ran isn’t going to happen?

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      +1

      That’s a shame. Jerry could have saved himself some of the pain he endured if he’d read the Brick Bible instead of the whole, tedious thing. From what I’ve heard, the Qu’ran is even worse; a Brick Qu’ran might be the only way a sane person could get through the thing (and still be sane at the end of it).

  19. eric
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Can’t believe I’m the first on the thread to say it, but it has to be said:

    Offended by it? Then don’t buy it.

  20. Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Devil? Thats clearly a red and black Irridonian. How dare they show such prejudice against the noble Irridonians by calling them “devils.”

    • marycanada FCD
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      You should counter-sue

    • Aj
      Posted January 25, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

      Actually that was their only complaint I thought had any merit.

      Darth Maul may have been the only cool part of episode one, but he’s still from the prequels and shouldn’t be attached to anything from the first three films.

      “Jar-jar Binks makes the Ewoks look like fucking Shaft!”

  21. Larry Gay
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    One little correction: The blurb in the upper right corner reads: What is LEGO recommending to parents as a Christmas gift for their children? Pedagogical explosives?

  22. Vicky
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Why the Hagia Sofia, which as others have pointed out has spent most of its existence as a church? I’m no mosque connoisseur but does it really resemble the Hagia Sofia more than the Blue Mosque, or any other mosque come to that? Do they seriously think that truncated tower is a minaret? How are they expecting to be taken seriously over this?

  23. Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Yep, that laser cannon sticking out of the dome is totally the same as the one in Istambul.

  24. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    On closer inspection, the fully assembled Lego house and the associated tower are seen to be a 1:1 imitation of the Hagia Sophia

    Hagia Sophia is 10 cm high!? The Farce is strong with this one.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 25, 2013 at 3:37 am | Permalink

      +1

  25. Marella
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    As Pat Condell says, Islam is the religion of perpetual offense.

  26. Owlglass
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    To be fair, Jabba the Hutt is very clearly modelled after an oriental sultan, just like the Empire is modelled after Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and some colonial British Empire. Lucas grounded everthing in real things and essentially folded real world traditions and imagery into his universe, via a 1930ties Flash Gordon style serial film formula.

    It is not clear from the article, if they are actually Muslims, and their complaint is not about Islam either. They object to the depiction of the oriental culture in combination with missle lauchers and guns, and other associations to terrorism and submit this to be not suitable for children age 9—14.

    Of course, I say, they have to deal with it. Fatty sultans are cultural icons, just like occultist (or nihilist) militaristic Germans (I’m German, so I can say so).

    • Posted January 25, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      i always thought that Jabba was a caricature of Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman (Hutt-man?) in The Maltese Falcon.

      /

  27. Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    I would counter-argue that, as the Star Wars took place “Long ago in a galaxy far, far away…”, due to the time it takes for light to travel to our galaxy, Jabba’s Palace architecture would pre-date human history by thousands if not millions of years.

  28. Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    This was may son’s response:Eoghan Collins Based on that the top of my head resembles a mosque. I am doomed…or domed, if you prefer.

  29. Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    PS Was up until 4 am reading “The Looming Tower” vv interesting, I didn’t realise how ignorant I was about the ME :(

  30. jose
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    Unrelated. If you like soccer, you need to watch what happened today in Málaga and I don’t mean just the highlights. Spain’s two best teams offering a master class of style.

  31. Kev
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    The Hagia Sophia (Note well this is a GREEK name meaning Holy Wisdom, not Saint Sophia): it was the biggest church in the world for a thousand years until Saint Peter’s in Rome and it was the central church of the Byzantine Empire (Greek Orthodox) until the Turk’s “converted” it to a mosque: it is the architectural model of subsequent mosques.
    If I am not mistaken it is considered now to be a non religiously affiliated structure: Museum more than church.
    It’s also BEAUTIFUL.
    The Lego thing is so superficially similar (not really at all) that I would hope any legal action would be thrown out. Could be any dome and any tower. I suspect the racial aspect is in the imagination of the beholder. The greatest “sin” of the religious mind: seeing things that are not there.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted January 25, 2013 at 3:40 am | Permalink

      Right up there with believing in things that don’t exist.

  32. John Harshman
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    The real story here is anti-Hutt racism. Why are the movies filled with negative Hutt stereotypes, with never a positive image of any Hutt? I suppose they think they can get away with it because Hutt-Americans don’t have a powerful lobby.

    • Posted January 25, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      There’s certainly no strong anti-aparthutt movement…

      /@

  33. John
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    This is very funny to me b/c I recently purchased some Legos for my nephews over the holidays. I wish I had bought that one!

  34. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I guess it’s OK if a heroic guy like James Bond has a rendezvous in the !*real*! Hagia Sophia as in this clip in “From Russia With Love”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-vBFzqKu8I

  35. Kev
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    It occurs to me that there is a certain irony in the choice of Hagia Sophia: the Turks profaned the art of this church. They painted over the frescoes and mosaics since they cannot tolerate the depiction of the human form in art. They took the church of another religion and bent it to their own. How do they deserve tolerance by such actions. Ask the Greeks how tolerant were their Turkish masters. Ask the Greeks how tolerant were the Roman Christians for that matter. The crusaders sacked Istanbul (Byzantium) weakening the Byzantine empire which allowed the Turks to occupy the area. Three brutal centuries to get them out. I’m Irish by the way. You might imagine what I think of religious conflict and occupation by a foreign power.

  36. palefury
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Oh this is just silly. Lego cannot be blamed for this. The lego set is clearly based on how Jabba’s Palace is depicted in the movies which have been around for quite some time now. Was there an outcry about the palace in 1983? I can’t remember I was 4.

    I think this is just a certain group of people seeing how far they can push things. No one can honestly be offended.

    • John
      Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      It’s a group of people trying to see how stupid they can be.

  37. John
    Posted January 24, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    This whole situation reminds me a great deal of literary interpretation. What people see in a work of art often reveals more about them than it does about the work of art. In the case of this toy, it reveals the critics to be complete idiots.

  38. Clive Durdle
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Jabbism?

  39. MadScientist
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Is the Hagia Sophia still a mosque? I thought it was opened to tourists long ago and more recently the plaster was being removed from the original christian mosaics. After all the Hagia Sophia was a christian church for many hundreds of years (well, about a century) before the Ottomans made it a mosque.

  40. Posted January 25, 2013 at 4:01 am | Permalink

    ‘Could the model also resemble not just a mosque, but also Carolingian Cathedral, the Pantheon in Rome, a Catholic Church, a Hindu or Buddhist temple, or a Tibetan palace?’

    Wow! Lego really have gone out of their way to offend everybody!

    ‘In short, the model resembles several religious buildings, whether church, mosque, synagogue or temple.’

    At last, all the religions in the world can unite and declare what they have in common – being offended by Lego.

  41. Don Quijote
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    This rage was obviously caused by some Muslim stepping on a piece of Lego.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 25, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

      LOL!

  42. Fragmeister
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Found this picture of some workers clearly building an insulting representation of a sacred building (I think the domed shape gives it away) at Legoland Florida: http://media.tcpalm.com/media/img/photos/2011/10/13/2011.06.13_LEGOLANDDC001_t607.JPG

    Should we raise a protest?

  43. DrBrydon
    Posted January 25, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    As an AFOL (adult friend of Lego) and a Star Wars fan, I am hugely amused and appalled. Frankly, I was holding off on this set, but now I am going to go and buy two in case Lego caves on this one.

    Although the comparisons are ridiculous, I pretty sure that I wouldn’t say in my complaint that the Gamorrean guard is clearly supposed to be a prayer leader (especially given their porcine coutenance). That’s like a Catholic complaining, and saying Emperor Palpatine is clearly supposed to be the Pope (no. my. god! *gasp* He totally is!).

    I do love, though, the part of in Episode VI of the Koran where Mohammed Skywalker mounts his Tauntaun and ascends to the Death Star from Hagia Hutt.

    • Posted January 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      I do love, though, the part of in Episode VI of the Koran where Mohammed Skywalker mounts his Tauntaun and ascends to the Death Star from Hagia Hutt.
      Brilliant!


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