SINGAPORE - Counterfeit Lego sets featuring terrorists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which were being sold at a local retail store and e-commerce sites, have been taken off the shelves.
This comes after concerns were raised that the toys could lead to the glorification of the terror group.
A reader had alerted The Straits Times to the made-in-China figurines being sold at a retail store in People's Park Centre, as well as on local online marketplace Carousell.
These toy sets, recommended for children between six and 12, depict violent scenes that show figurines carrying the ISIS flag, launching sticks of dynamite and firing AK-47s. One also includes a plastic figurine of a decapitated head.
The toys, described as "Falcon commando" sets, were priced at between $3.80 and $25 and sold on Carousell and at 8 Series, a shop selling household and lifestyle items, as well as toys, in People's Park Complex.
Close to twenty of them were in stock on Tuesday evening (Sept 26) when ST visited, while there were two listings for the products on Carousell on Wednesday morning (Sept 27).
Another online retailer, Brick Generals, is also selling toy figurines described as "militants" and "bombers". One of them is labelled as "ISIS Jihadi John", while a description for a bomber figurine reads: "Extremist who enjoys blowing things up for fun. One day, he'll blow himself up."
In June, Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian reported that the Lego figurines were being sold there. A schoolteacher reported the toys to the Islamic council and police officers in Malaysia, raising concerns that they touched "on religious sensitivities". Following the incident in Malaysia, the items were taken off e-commerce site AliExpress, which distributes these products internationally.
Professor Rohan Gunaratna, head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR), said that the sale of such toys may "glorify ISIS" and "promote incitement and hate". The sales of such toys should be stopped, he said.
"The vendors need to be engaged to ensure they do not deliberately or ignorantly promote ISIS," he added.
Mr Remy Mahzam, an associate research fellow at ICPVTR, said that the misuse of religious words or symbols such as "Allah" and "Muhammad" in these toys is "very problematic".
"It touches on religious sensitivities and sheds a negative light on Muslims," he said.
Carousell took down the listings for the toys on Wednesday afternoon.
When contacted, 8 Series' store manager Jack Lim told ST that the store began selling the toys only in August, and that fewer than 20 of them have been sold since. They were pulled from the store's shelves on Wednesday night.
Ms Charlotte Simonsen, senior director of corporate brand communications at the Lego headquarters in Denmark, said that the toys are "in no way affiliated with the Lego Group".
"As a company dedicated to inspire and develop children, we would naturally never make a product like this," she added.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said that it is "extremely concerned that figurines which propagate acts of violence are being offered for sale for the young".
"This is especially troubling when Muis has been actively working to counter the messaging behind extremist movements such as ISIS," said a spokesman.
ST has contacted Brick Generals for comment.