Lego Idolatry Riles Austrian Muslims

legoMost people would be proud to have their architecture on display, even if as a toy. Some take offense and call it racism.

Lego has been accused of racism by the Turkish community over a Star Wars toy allegedly depicting  a mosque.

The critics claim that the Jabba’s Palace model, part of Lego’s Star Wars range, offends Muslims as it resembles the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul – one of the world’s most renowned mosques.

Members of the Turkish Cultural Community of Austria group also accused the toy manufacturer of depicting Asians as having ‘deceitful and criminal personalities’.

We see how moderate Muslims are moderate. We see how Turks who flee to Europe bring their phobic cultural baggage with them. We see why Europe is becoming shocked with its huge immigration of Turks.

When a country is founded on a material ideology such as a constitution or bill of rights then its immigrants need to to become part of that country. Moving to another country isn’t just safe harbor from terror. If you leave because of oppression you are not allowed to drag the ideology of oppression with you.

Borders are not vapor. We are not free to roam the world as if it were one big country without culture or law. The UN would like to make us globally more free, less oppressed, less tyrannical but countries nevertheless maintain autonomy. There is a value to hybridizing and exchanging ideas but it is not a blind process of accepting anything.

Again. There is a cost to belonging to a country. A person born where they are is of that country without choice. While that is sad when they are born into oppression, and other countries should help as possible, the people cannot treat their new home as if it were the home they left, minus the oppression. They must buy into the ideology of the country they move to.

The group has released a statement calling for an apology from Lego for its cultural insensitivity.

The Lego set is based on the home of Jabba the Hutt, a central character in the Star Wars series, who lives in a domed palace, with a separated watchtower.

As well as bearing a likeness to the Hagia Sophia mosque, the Turkish group also claimed the toy takes its design from the Jami al-Kabir mosque in Beirut – while the watchtower is said to resemble a minaret.

Multiculturalism has turned into multiracism. David Rand has written on this recently.

Multiculturalism is a form of ethnic essentialism masquerading as a corrective for racism. It reinforces differences between groups based on ethnic and religious identities. It grants certain “group rights,” often to the detriment of individual rights. It favours tradition over modernism and community over fundamental human rights. It supports and emboldens traditional religious leaders and is closely related to accommodationism, the practice of granting privileges -– incompatible with universal principles -– on the basis of membership in a religious or ethnic community.

Conquest clearly has issues of how to deal with the material and ideological infrastructure of the conquered state (CF Native Americans) but immigration requires adherence to defined ideology. When one leaves their country they leave their country. It is not  a light choice, a fashionable switch of equal ideologies.

But in reality, multiculturalism is itself a close cousin of racism because it exaggerates the importance of the community into which one is born, to the detriment of one’s individuality.

Islams who cry racism have their own agenda of replacing their new country’s ideology with the old without bothering to learn the ideology of the new country. It is not a simple process and just learning the often painful history of a country’s governance is not the solution.

While there is freedom, there is responsibility. If you move to another country you should learn the language, learn the customs, and learn the ideology. Once you have actually become part of the country then use the law (or conscientious civil disobedience) to make progressive change. Unless you learn it you don’t know what you’re trying to change. You don’t understand why the culture is in the first place.

Colonialism, imperialism, and cultural myopia work both ways. Only in this case it is not the foreign invader that can’t see.

What makes this more absurd is the building, the Hagia Sophia, was not even originally a Mosque but was changed to one after Islamic conquest.

“… is a former Orthodoxpatriarchalbasilica, later amosque, and now a museum in IstanbulTurkey. From the date of its dedication in 360 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodoxcathedral and seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,[1] except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931, when it was secularized. It was opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.[2]

Perhaps, the offended Muslims should consider why they conquered Istanbul in the first place or maybe if they are certain of offense return the building to the culture that built it.


The Lego building has resemblance because it is tan and has a dome. Anyone having seen the movies gets the thematic elements.

Katharina Sasse, a public relations manager working on behalf of Lego, denied any link between Jabba’s Palace and the mosque.

“The Lego Star Wars product Jabba´s Palace does not reflect any actually existing buildings, people, or the mentioned mosque,” she said. “The Lego mini-figures are all modelled on characters from the movie.

“We regret that the product has caused the members of the Turkish cultural community to come to a wrong interpretation, but point out that when designing the product only the fictional content of the Star Wars saga were referred to.”

Jim Newman, bright and well


BTW, days later: here’s Jabba’s palace from the movie.

jabba's palace

About Jim Newman

Jim Newman is a philosopher. When I was young I wondered what was the ultimate truth. How should I behave? What makes it all work? I was intensely curious to know what it all means. It was enlightening to realize there is no ultimate truth, but nevertheless sufficient and necessary turth, and that meaning was a meta analysis of living one’s life. In this sense my work has been living large. Living and experiencing life has made me learn many things. Building boats, motors, houses, electronics. Raising animals. Teaching. Writing. Photography. Drawing. Knitting. Sewing. Cooking. Music. Painting. Hiking. Aboriginal living skills. All material aspects of reality that seem irrelevant until you realize they allow you to experience more. My epiphany came when I read Christopher Hitchen’s “Letters to a Young Contrarian” and I felt vindicated in my many meals of sacred cow.
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11 Responses to Lego Idolatry Riles Austrian Muslims

  1. Phil Ferguson says:

    I know what my next Lego purchase will be!

  2. fred says:

    You beat me to it Phil … It’s on the birthday lists for my grandkids this year!

  3. fred says:

    Oh, yeah .. and if my recollection of history is correct, wasn’t Hagia Sophia originally a christian church that was recently “converted” by militant islamists?

  4. Ryan G says:

    I’ll bet a good chunk of the controversy is just because Lego is a Danish company. Lots of people still haven’t forgotten the cartoons.

  5. DanDare says:

    Agree with your article except for “Again. There is a cost to belonging to a country. A person born where they are is of that country without choice. While that is sad when they are born into oppression, and other countries should help as possible, the people cannot treat their new home as if it were the home they left, minus the oppression. They must buy into the ideology of the country they move to.”

    I strongly disagree. Wherever people are they should be engaged with the society around them and be free to struggle for changes they believe in, right or wrong. Your idea expressed above means that no one would be free to agitate for change and all would be oppressed.

  6. Shahram says:

    “Borders are not vapor. We are not free to roam the world as if it were one big country without culture or law. The UN would like to make us globally more free, less oppressed, less tyrannical but countries nevertheless maintain autonomy.”

    It doesn’t seem like the European colonialists who colonized more than half the world, and robbed the colonized countries of their resources heeded this concept of yours… Nobody invited them after all…. Nor did anyone invite the U.S. to Iraq or Afghanistan or the Persian Gulf…

  7. Shahram says:

    Also… did the European migrants who took over America, Canada, Australia and New Zeeland by force respect the borders of other people? When it comes to Europeans and those with Euro ancestry, there is no need to respect anything of other people… As an Iranian I clearly remember how Americans and the British who lived and worked in Iran before the revolution in great numbers, never interacted with ordinary Iranians, and very few learned Persian – even though they had lived there for long… And then I think of the ranting about “Muslims not integrating or learning the local language” accusation… It’s a one way street…

  8. Shahram says:

    Though I must say that the Americans were better than the Brits in this regard… although a minority, there were Americans who truly appreciated our culture and who did integrate and learn the language – The Brits thought they were God’s gift…

  9. Shahram says:

    “Oh, yeah .. and if my recollection of history is correct, wasn’t Hagia Sophia originally a christian church that was recently “converted” by militant islamists?”

    Recently? is 1453 AD “recently” for you? And no, there were no “militant islamists” back then… Militant islamists is a phenomenon of the 20th and 21st centuries, and they only gained significance after the U.S. aided, financed and chartered them to Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, and gained increasingly more significance and influence after the U.S. / NATO hegemonic policies and aggressions in Iraq and Afghanistan in 1990’s and 2001 and on…
    So apparently your recollection of history is not so correct at all after all…

  10. Shahram says:

    “You beat me to it Phil … It’s on the birthday lists for my grandkids this year!”

    Do they have lego of white trash trailers?

  11. Jim n says:

    Shahram, your bitterness is surpassed only by your ignorance of history. While British imperialism lasted less than 200 years, military, spiritual, and cultural Jihad has been extant for a 1,100 more.

    Mohammed himself was born into a socioeconomic culture of polyanimists, polytheists, a few Jews and Christians, all of whom eked an existence from the growing desert of the Arab peninsula. The clash of nomads raiding oases inhabited by herders and semi agrarians is the setting for Mohammed who came back from a cave and without evidence whatsoever insisted that God is all and the only way to salvation was through his new revelation. Is it surprising that he was attacked by his own society? Any reasonable person would be offended by his arrogance!

    Mohammed and his later generals then expanded conquest to include the largest conquered territory since Cyrus the great in a harsh and imposing conquest, far beyond the Arab peninsula and the territory of his own country and culture.

    What was the point of invading Spain, Anatolia, Syria, Armeina, Yemen, the Levant, and on and on? Sheer conquest. This was no retaliation for previous wrongs but outright aggression.

    As to Africa there are now more North Africans in France than the French were ever in North Africa.

    Even Spain a significant conquerer has been conquered far longer. Spain was under the Muslim yoke for 781 years.

    Tamerlane the famous Muslim leader killed some 17 million people, 5% of the world’s population during his reign.

    Saladin did not merely repel the crusaders but expanded his empire. Oddly, Christians, including Richard the Lionheart, admired his chivalry. Why? Ceremonial and ritual conquest were what Christians and Muslims had in common at that time.

    Saladin expanded his empire to include Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen, and parts of North Africa. He is praised for allowing partial freedom of Jews for two reasons, the Jews and Christians didn’t get along and the Jews provided valuable services and were no longer warlike. Jews had no trinity, or polytheistic issues, and they did not see Jesus as a prophet.

    In the Treaty of Tripoli Thomas Jefferson bent over backwards to appease raiding Muslim pirates and wrote a definitive nod to religious tolerance.

    Afganistan has been urbanized for 3,000-4,000 years. The Achaemenid empire was overrun by Alexander the Great. Afghanistan has been conquered by Greco-Bactrians, Mauryas, Kushans, Kabul Shahi, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Tinurids, Mughals, Hotakis, Durranis, and still more!.

    As the gateway to India and the Silk road to China Afghanistan has had so many cultures imposed on it they cannot claim a native culture. There is no trace even of the ancient Zoroastrian, Macedonian, or Buddhist cultures once there.

    There was a time when it was a Muslim center with notables scholars like Avicenna. However, they decayed and the resulting disparate tribes were later unified by Mirwais Hotak and Ahmed Shah Durani founding the last Afghan empire in the 18th century.

    The diverse people there now include Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Aimak, Baloch, and still more.The Pashtuns, the largest remaining group, claim (not likely) descendence from the Israelites.

    The Soviet war began one year after the Saur revolution which had a close relation with Russia. Jimmy Carter fearing Russian dominance began sending financial aid against the regime.

    Previously the government had been secular under Mohammed Daoud Khan. Factionalism and rivalry ensued between the Parcham and Khalqi with the assassination of Mir Akbar Khyber kicking things off. PDPA leaders spread the fear that the Daoud was out to kill them all. Hafizullah Amin ordered an Army uprising against the government.

    The coup staged by the Khalq faction occurred on a Muslim day of worship when most were off duty. Using Soviet planes the insurgence won, killing off Daoud and most of his family.

    The PDPA, divided between the Khalq and Parcham, created a new government. More intrigue and assassinations. The PDPA implemented a socialist agenda, including equal rights for women, Conservative Islamists fumed and considered this an attack on Islam–by other Islamists. The PDPA then went on to promote a state atheism and land reform which pissed off everyone. They changed the flag from Islamic green to Soviet red.

    The PDPA was dependent on Soviet support and the US saw this as interfering with the previous Afghan rulership and feared continued Soviet invasion in the mideast. Russia was moving south of the Hindu Kush. Russia has historically never retreated from conquered lands. It’s no wonder the US saw itself justified in helping return Afghan to its preSoviet supported governance and preventing Russia from expansion.

    What one can make of this varies but it is certainly no simple colonialism as you advance. But back to Jihadist colonialism.

    Sheik Yer Mami contends, on the general imbalance of sympathy towards Jihad:

    “This part of history, when Europeanswere victims of colonialism and slave raids, deserves much more emphasis than it currently receives, when the focus is almost exclusively on the briefer European colonial period.”

    Islam once again shows two great tragedies: that it is not a religion of peace and that it is so able to victimize itself, fooling people into thinking they have only been oppressed.

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