‘Islamaphobic’ Lego toy angers Austrian Turks

Updated 25 January 2013
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‘Islamaphobic’ Lego toy angers Austrian Turks

VIENNA: Austria’s Turkish community has threatened to sue Lego because it thinks the firm’s “Star Wars: Jabba’s Palace” box set might teach children to associate Islam with violence and terrorism.
One of the buildings is a “one-to-one copy” of the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul, while the figure with an axe and machine gun in the minaret-like structure could be a muezzin, the Turkish Cultural Community said.
The “terrorist” Jabba the Hut, the malevolent slug-like alien kingpin from the “Star Wars” movies, meanwhile “loves smoking a water pipe,” it said in a statement.
“It is obvious that the hideous villain Jabba the Hut’s figure and the entire backdrop encourage the depiction of Orientals and Asians as sneaky criminals,” it said.
The organization said it was considering filing criminal complaints against Denmark’s Lego in Austria and Germany for alleged incitement to racial hatred. It is also mulling legal steps in Turkey.
A Lego spokeswoman, Katharina Sasse, told AFP that the buildings in the box set were faithful copies from “fantasy” structures in the “Star Wars” movies and that the firm was “very sorry” if offense was caused.
“We can guarantee that we definitely did not copy the mosque mentioned or any other building,” Sasse said. She added that Lego had no plans to withdraw the product before its scheduled phase-out at the end of 2013.


Couples whipped in Indonesia’s Aceh for public show of affection

Updated 43 sec ago
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Couples whipped in Indonesia’s Aceh for public show of affection

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: A group of amorous couples and alleged sex workers were publicly whipped for breaking Islamic law in Indonesia’s Aceh Friday, just a week after the province pledged to move the widely condemned practice indoors.
More than a thousand people, including dozens of tourists from neighboring Malaysia, jeered and screamed abuse at the group as they were flogged outside a mosque in the capital Banda Aceh.
The three men and five women — who included several college students — were found guilty of violating religious law by either showing affection in public or for offering sexual services online, officials said.
Aceh is the only province in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that imposes Islamic law and flogging is a common punishment for a range of offenses — from gambling, to drinking alcohol to having gay sex or relations outside of marriage.
The conservative region on the northern tip of Sumatra island passed a regulation a week ago that would see criminals whipped only behind prison walls. It was not clear when the new rule would come into effect.
The move was in response to a wave of international criticism over the practice, which has included flogging members of the region’s LGBT community and, in some cases, non-Muslims.
Rights groups have derided it as cruel and last year President Joko Widodo called for an end to public whippings in Aceh.
Around 98 percent of the province’s five million residents are Muslims, subject to religious law, including the public whippings which came into practice around 2005.
The new rule has generated protests from conservative groups who see public whippings as having a strong deterrent effect on crime.
Banda Aceh’s deputy mayor Zainal Arifin said Friday’s flogging was not an act of defiance against the new rules.
“We understand that the regulation has not yet come into effect and the prison is not yet ready to (host floggings) so that is why we are still doing it” in public, he said.
“Until the new regulation is officially in place we will carry on as usual.”