German shop axes 'Brevik' after protests

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09:48 CET+01:00
A shop selling clothes favoured by neo-Nazis has changed its name from “Brevik” after massive protests in Chemnitz, eastern Germany, forced a u-turn just a week after it opened.

Mediatex, owners of the Thor Steinar clothing label often worn by neo-Nazis, bowed to pressure from local politicians, shop-owners, and citizens who protested in front of the shop.

They were offended by it being just one letter short of that of Anders Behring Breivik, the far-right extremist who killed 77 people in Norway last year, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Thursday.

Thor Steinar, which decorates its clothes with symbols from Nordic mythology, names all its branches after places in Norway - their newest branch, opened last Thursday, was named after the village of Brevik, south of Oslo. Indeed, the company previously had a shop called "Brevik" in Hamburg, though it was closed in 2008.

A company spokesman said Mediatex had “not expected” that people would make the association, and called the name “an oversight.” The shop is now called Tønsberg.

Local Social Democrat politician Hanka Kliese was unconvinced by the explanation, citing the company’s alleged neo-Nazi sympathies. “The name was consciously chosen to make the connection to Breivik,” she told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “It is repellent, shocking and unmasks the firm.”

“Behind the company there is a violent and inhuman ideology,” she added. “We don’t want a shop like that here, whatever they call it.”

Chemnitz has seen a rising problem with neo-Nazis in recent years. “The situation has got a lot worse, since the head of [far-right party] the NPD moved his office here,” said Kliese.

Several Norwegian newspapers have also picked up the story, and Anne-Kirsti Karlsen, spokeswoman for the Norwegian embassy in Germany, described the choice of name as “very unfortunate and thoughtless.”

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