Is Lego’s ‘Jabba’s Palace’ the New Mohammad Cartoon?

January 28, 2013 12:15 pm 0 comments

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: wiki commons.

Last year, Lego released a new Star Wars play set called “Jabba’s Palace.” For those of you unfamiliar with Star Wars, Jabba is a slug-like alien mob boss the size of a Prius, who plays the role of the series’ b-story bad guy. Since he and his palace debuted in the early 80s, you wouldn’t think that this new Lego set would be particularly controversial. But you would be wrong. In fact, according the “Turkish Cultural Community of Austria,” the toy effervesces racist, anti-Muslim bigotry.

Says the TCCA, in a statement released this week, “What are Lego recommending parents buy as a Christmas gift? The answer is pure racism.”Jabba’s Palace is domed and has an accompanying tower. If you squint at it, it looks very slightly like the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul, which has a very big, famous dome, and four tower-minarets. According to the Daily Mail, The TCCA claims that depicting the “terrorist” Jabba living in a mosque-like building plays into traditional, offensive, anti-oriental stereotypes. For what it’s worth, Lego denies the palace is based on the Sophia Mosque. The claims of religious intolerance have gone viral anyway.

Here’s the thing: the Hagia Sophia Mosque is a very famous mosque, but it didn’t used to be. Before the Ottoman Muslims captured Constantinople in 1453, the Hagia Sophia was the most famous Church is the Byzantine Empire. Its giant dome was heralded as the epitome of Byzantine Christian Architecture. Its giant dome is still heralded the epitome of Byzantine Christian Architecture. How can Turkish Muslims complain of religious intolerance in the depiction of a building they stole from another religion?

Seizing and rededicating other religions’ holy places is a pretty standard operating procedure. The Greeks did it, the Romans did it, the Byzantines themselves did it, and the Muslim have done it, quite a lot. They built the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, which they took from the Persians, who took it from the Christians, who took it from the Pagans, who took it from the Jews. They turned the Parthenon into a mosque, after it had been a church, after it had been a Temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. The Muslims stored munitions inside the Parthenon-mosque, which were detonated by a stray Venetian shell. The explosion gutted the building and left it as the quintessential Greek ruin we all know and love.

It bears mentioning that the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria is also upset that Jabba’s Mosque features munition storage.

Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with defending your religion’s reputation, but prudence requires a little background research. And if you cry wolf every time something inoffensive offends you, no one’s going to care when you’ve got genuine cause. The TCCA is threatening legal action if Lego does’t apologize.

Really, Lego shouldn’t be totally surprised by disproportionate ire from certain parts of the Muslim community. They’re a Danish company, and the Danes have had a fair amount of experience with faith-based Muslim anger at things. It’s been about seven years since the Danish Newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 10 cartoon depicting Islam’s prophet Mohammed, which — in Islam — is strictly forbidden. Reports of the cartoons provoked Muslim protests and riots all over the world, attacks on Danish embassies in Muslim countries, along with other embassies caught in the crossfire, along with Churches, and Christians. More than 200 people were killed.

It isn’t likely that the Jabbagate will lead to that sort of maelstrom; for one thing, Lego isn’t bound by notions of journalist integrity not to retract the inflammatory article. For another, by any standards, a Lego mafia Mosque is less offensive than a drawing of Mohammed wearing a bomb-turban. But we should still try to nip this silliness in the bud (first they came for the Legos, but I did not speak out, for I preferred erector sets).

And anyway — to me, Jabba’s Palace looks more like the Pantheon. We’ll have to wait and see what the Roman Pagan Universalists have to say about it.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Education Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    Seeds of ‘Start-Up Nation’ Cultivated by Israel Sci-Tech Schools

    JNS.org – Forget the dioramas. How about working on an Israeli Air Force drone? That’s exactly the kind of beyond-their-years access enjoyed by students at the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) industrial vocational high school run by Israel Sci-Tech Schools, the largest education network in the Jewish state. More than 300 students (250 on the high school level and 68 at a two-year vocational academy) get hands-on training in the disciplines of aviation mechanics, electricity and energy control, and unmanned air [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Education Haredim and Bedouin: A Tale of Two Communities Transformed by Vocational Education

    Haredim and Bedouin: A Tale of Two Communities Transformed by Vocational Education

    JNS.org – Low enlistment rates in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). High rates of poverty. Communal resistance to traditional schooling. Difficulty finding employment or a lack of motivation to be employed. These conditions are shared by two sectors of the Israeli population that the casual observer likely wouldn’t group together: haredi Jews and Bedouin. Through its operation of schools for each population, however, the Israel Sci-Tech Schools Network seeks to give haredim and Bedouin a brighter future in the Jewish [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.