London's Finchley neighborhood, the heart of the city's Jewish community, is the site of a new clothing store selling a brand associated with Europe's Neo-Nazis, the Independent newspaper reported.
The Viking Thor Shop, which sells the controversial Thor Steinar brand, has opened its doors only meters from the office of the UK’s Chief Rabbi.
Jewish and Islamic groups in the multicultural suburb have expressed concerns that the shop will attract far-right supporters and inflame tensions. But the store’s manager denied any neo-Nazi associations and claimed he was simply selling leisurewear.
The Thor Steinar brand, which is closely associated with far-right street groups and football hooligans, has faced bans in the German Bundestag and in several football stadiums across Germany.
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Eight members of the far-right German National Democratic Party were expelled from Saxony’s state parliament in 2012 for wearing the brand’s T-shirts, which display themes popular with neo-Nazis.
After being banned in Germany in 2004, the company rebranded its original logo, which was similar to symbols worn by the Nazi SS. A new German store opened in 2012 was named Brevik, which critics maintained was in honor of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, an ultra-rightist. The store later changed its name.
Owner Zsolt Mogyorodi denied that he was racist and said he had opened the store to serve a local eastern European community with whom the brand is popular. “We welcome all kinds of customers in the shop," he said. "The Nazi thing is a silly old story from years ago and the brand has changed since then.”
Launched in 2002, Thor Steinar was sold to a Dubai-based company in 2009. Its clothes are banned from the Bundestag, the state parliaments of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony as well as the football stadiums of Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen.