A store operated by a clothing company that is closely associated with Germany's neo-Nazi scene on Wednesday moved to change the name of a new outlet it had opened in the eastern city of Chemnitz. The "Brevik" store opened by Thor Steinar only one week ago offended many in Germany and around the world because of its close association with the far-right Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Oslo and on the island of Utoya in Norway in July 2011.
The company removed the sign over the store under public pressure. The company that operates the Thor Steinar label, Mediatex, said the store had been named after the Norwegian town of Brevik and that any association with Anders Breivik was disastrous and unintended. The company, which operates 13 stores, primarily in the states that belonged to the former East Germany, said it was sorry for the naming. "We apologize if this reminds anyone of the massacre of last summer," the company said in a statement. "That was not intended."
Still, the naming of the store as "Brevik" was widely seen as a far-right provocation, even if the company had opened a store with the same name in Hamburg in 2008. It also seems to have a history of recycling names. The Chemnitz outlet is now to be called "Tønsberg." The company used the same name for a store in Berlin that it opened several years ago and which has since been shuttered.
'Offensive and Shocking'
Many locals, however, didn't buy Mediatex's story. "The name was deliberately chosen and was intended to create an association with Breivik," Hanka Kliese, a member of the Saxony state parliament with the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), told reporters. "That is offensive, shocking and exposes just what the company is about," she said. "Behind this is a company that glorifies violence and an ideology that holds contempt for humanity. We don't want a store like that here, no matter what it is called."
Kliese is the initiator of the Bündnis Buntes Brühl, a group promoting diversity in Chemnitz's Brühl district, where the store is located. Kliese said the group, formed on Wednesday, would combat right-wing extremism in the city.
She said that extreme-right activity had intensified in the city after the national chairman of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD) opened an office in Chemnitz. "The city has clearly provided a space for these people for too long." The city has also been in the headlines in recent weeks because it had been the temporary home of the Zwickau cell of neo-Nazis that murdered nine immigrants and one police officer between 2000 and 2007. The group lived for a time in both Chemnitz and nearby Zwickau during their years in the underground.
The store also angered many because it is located near a Jewish restaurant in the neighborhood that, according to the news agency Reuters, has been the subject of multiple anti-Semitic attacks in recent years.
dsl -- with wires
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