A social media firestorm erupted yesterday after several media outlets reported that LEGO caved to Muslim demands to discontinue selling one of their Star Wars products. The “Jabba’s Palace” set had drawn complaints from the Austrian Turkish Council, who said it looked like a mosque in Instanbul.
LEGO responded to Twitter complaints, and posted a full response on their website saying their Star Wars products are based on the movies. Jabba’s Palace depicts the building from the movie scene on the fictional planet Tatooine.
The LEGO Group says they “regret that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to interpret it wrongly”, and further explain the reason behind the product being discontinued:
A few media have reported that the product is being discontinued due to the mentioned criticism. This is, however, not correct.
As a normal process products in the LEGO Star Wars assortment usually have a life-cycle of one to three years after which they leave the assortment and may be renewed after some years. The LEGO Star Wars product Jabba’s Palace 9516 was planned from the beginning to be in the assortment only until the end of 2013 as new exiting models from the Star Wars universe will follow.
Lego’s Brand Relations Director Michael McNally told TheBlaze that what is being reported is false. McNally says that LEGO has had “a dialogue” with Austria’s Turkish Cultural Association, but that it didn’t affect the distribution of the product.
“We were in dialogue with the Austrian Turkish group to better understand each other’s points, but the product exit of 9516 LEGO Star Wars Jabba‘s Palace is not a result of this dialogue but a planned portfolio change,” McNally said. “It may have been misinterpreted through our dialogue that the item was being pulled for other reasons.”
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