On Monday, the Lego Company announced that it would cease production of their popular Star Wars set, "Jabba’s Palace." The announcement came shortly after the Austrian Turkish Cultural Community complained that the set, which depicted the character Jabba the Hut in a "mosque-like" building, was anti-Muslim. In a press release, the Lego Company denied that the decision was a direct response to the complaints.
The Muslim community specifically referred to a mosque in Istanbul when issuing their complaints. In response, the Lego Company stated, "All LEGO Star WarsTM products are based on the movies of the Star WarsTM saga created by Lucasfilm. Jabba's Palace appears in Star WarsTM Episode VI and appears in a famous scene on the planet Tatooine. The building is the palace of Jabba — a fictional movie character."
In other words, the Star Wars Lego set does not recreate any building other than the fictional palace of Jabba the Hut, and they did a good job of it if I do say so myself.
Although the presence of slaves and hookah may be deemed by many parents as not fit for younger children, it is far-fetched to accuse the product, and indirectly the Star Wars movie, of being anti-Muslim. Nevertheless, the Lego Company apologized for the misinterpretation: "The LEGO Group regrets that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to interpret it wrongly, but points out that the design of the product only refers to the fictional content of the Star WarsTM saga."
The Lego Company concluded by explaining that Lego products usually only have a life-cycle of one to three years after which the product is discontinued, but may be renewed after a few years. “Jabba’s Palace” was from the very beginning only meant to remain in circulation until the end of 2013.
Although we will never know the exact motivation for discontinuing the set, the incident demonstrates serious potential for political correctness to run amok. In fact, this is not the first time the Lego Company has been criticized for their Lego set themes. Over the last few years, the Lego Company has received many complaints stating that the boys’ and girls’ Lego sets encourage gender-stereotypes.
Personally I have no qualms with the Lego Company. I built several of their Star Wars and Pirate sets back in the day. Rather than criticizing the company and causing a fuss, parents should quietly choose which toys they feel appropriate are for their children and let other parents do the same.