UPDATE: Lego is contradicting the Austrian Muslims' claim, and denies that it is withdrawing the set because it offends Muslims. Details here.
Racism? What race are Muslims again? I keep forgetting. And as for the Hagia Sophia, in complaining about this Lego set the Turks in Austria for some reason neglected to mention exactly how the building became a mosque in the first place. On May 29, 1453, Islamic jihadists broke the siege of Constantinople and entered the city. Historian Steven Runciman notes that the Muslim soldiers "slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn. But soon the lust for slaughter was assuaged. The soldiers realized that captives and precious objects would bring them greater profit." (The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 145.)
Some jihadists "made for the small but splendid churches by the walls, Saint George by the Charisian Gate, Saint John in Petra, and the lovely church of the monastery of the Holy Saviour in Chora, to strip them of their stores of plate and their vestments and everything else that could be torn from them. In the Chora they left the mosaics and frescoes, but they destroyed the icon of the Mother of God, the Hodigitria, the holiest picture in all Byzantium, painted, so men said, by Saint Luke himself. It had been taken there from its own church beside the Palace at the beginning of the siege, that its beneficient presence might be at hand to inspire the defenders on the walls. It was taken from its setting and hacked into four pieces." (P. 146.)
The jihadists also entered the Hagia Sophia, which for nearly a thousand years had been the grandest church in Christendom. The faithful had gathered within its hallowed walls to pray during the city’s last agony. The Muslims, according to Runciman, halted the celebration of Orthros (morning prayer); the priests, according to legend, took the sacred vessels and disappeared into the cathedral’s eastern wall, through which they shall return to complete the divine service one day. Muslim men then killed the elderly and weak and led the rest off into slavery. Then the Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror had a muezzin mount the pulpit and proclaim that there was no god but Allah and Muhammad was his prophet. The great church was transformed into a mosque, its gorgeous icons destroyed or covered with huge medallions bearing Islamic declarations of faith.
Once the Muslims had thoroughly subdued the entire city of Constantinople, they set out to Islamize it. According to the Muslim chronicler Hoca Sa’deddin, tutor of the sixteenth-century Sultans Murad III and Mehmet III, "churches which were within the city were emptied of their vile idols and cleansed from the filthy and idolatrous impurities and by the defacement of their images and the erection of Islamic prayer niches and pulpits many monasteries and chapels became the envy of the gardens of Paradise."
Now the sons and heirs of these bloody conquerors, who celebrate them as heroes, have successfully strong-armed Lego into withdrawing its product, which they think stereotypes them.
Anyway, the hate-filled, racist, Islamophobic Lego set is still available at Amazon. Get 'em while they last.
"The racist menace? Muslims declare victory in fight over ‘anti-Islamic’ Lego," by Tony Paterson in the Independent, March 31 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):
Austria’s Turkish community claimed a victory in its fight against Danish toy giant Lego yesterday after the firm agreed to withdraw a Star Wars toy set featuring a mosque-like building inhabited by an obese, hookah–smoking alien, following complaints that it was anti-Muslim.
Lego added the “Jabba’s Palace” playset to its Star Wars collection in 2012. But in January this year the set started to provoke outrage in Austria’s Islamic community after a Muslim father found that his sister had given one to his son as a present.
The game, which is aimed at children aged from nine to 14, features Jabba the Hutt in his intergalactic lair. Jabba, the slug-like villain who first appeared in the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, lives in a domed, oriental-looking building equipped with rockets and machine guns. He also smokes a water pipe and keeps Princess Leia in chains for use as his personal slave.
Furious Muslim critics complained that the Lego set’s Asian and oriental figures were “deceitful and criminal” characters such as gun-runners, slave masters and terrorists.
“This sort of thing does not belong in a child’s bedroom,” said Melissa Gunes, a spokeswoman for Austria’s Turkish Cultural Association. Critics also claimed that the palace had an uncanny resemblance to Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia mosque. “The game is pedagogical dynamite. It depicts Muslims as terrorists,” the TCA complained, adding that Jabba was shown to be a “terrorist who likes to smoke hookah and have his victims killed”. It appealed to Lego to withdraw the product immediately.
Yeah, who ever heard of Muslim terrorists who like to smoke hookah and have their victims killed? It's an outrage!
Lego initially dug in its heels and refused the request. The company insisted the product was merely a faithful reproduction. “We see no reason to take it off the market, we have simply followed the film,” the company said.
But yesterday it emerged it had backed down and agreed to end its production from 2014 onwards. The decision followed a meeting in Munich between Turkish community leaders and Lego executives. Birol Killic, the president of the TCA, said in a statement: “We are very grateful and congratulate Lego on the decision to take Jabba’s Palace out of production.”
Lego was not available for comment yesterday. There was no explanation why the game was not scheduled for immediate withdrawal.