Lego denies pulling Jabba's Palace box set after racism claims

VIENNA (AFP) - Lego denied on Thursday that the withdrawal of its "Star Wars: Jabba's Palace" box set was because of accusations from a group representing Austria's Turkish community that it was Islamaphobic and racist.

The decision to discontinue the product at the end of 2013 "was taken last year and communicated in January", but Austria's Turkish Cultural Community "interpreted this a little differently", spokeswoman Katharina Sasse told AFP.

She added however, that the large amount of "feedback" about the product, not only from the Austrian organisation but also from others, had been "passed on to our development department".

"We listen very closely and take feedback very seriously. It must be said though that when it comes to the Star Wars line, we develop our products in line with the films," she said.

A statement from the Turkish organisation gave the impression that the Danish firm had decided to stop making the set because the group's representatives had made clear in a recent meeting that it was a "clear case of cultural racism".

The organisation said that the building in the set closely resembled the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul, while a figure with an axe and machine gun in the minaret-like structure could be mistaken for a muezzin, who calls the Muslim faithful to prayer.

"This toy depicts Jabba the Hut as a villain who smokes an oriental water pipe who has captured a princess to be a belly dancer. This has no place in a child's bedroom," the organisation's head Birol Kilic said.