‘Brevik’ shop renamed following protests

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.

‘Brevik’ shop renamed following protests
Photo: DPA

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 murdered 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.”

The Local/bk

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How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

While far-right groups have been celebrating, other politicians in Germany see the results as worrying. Here's a look at the reaction.

How Germany is reacting to far-right election victory in Italy

According to initial projections following Italy’s election on Sunday, the coalition led by Georgia Meloni and her radical right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party has won a majority of seats in the two chambers of the Italian parliament and will lead the next government. 

Meloni is a euro-sceptic who has previously spoken about having an “aversion” to Germany and referred to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz as “socialist” while on the campaign trail.

However, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s deputy spokesman Wolfgang Buechner told reporters on Monday: “We of course have to wait for the official final result from this election but at this time what the chancellor would say is that Italy is a very Europe-friendly country with very Europe-friendly citizens and we assume that won’t change.” 

READ ALSO: What will a far-right government mean for Italy?

A Finance Ministry spokesperson added that Berlin expected the new Italian government to continue to respect the stability pact that sets the fiscal rules for the eurozone.

Despite these reassurances from the central government, German politicians in the EU parliament have expressed concern about the new direction for Italy.  

Rasmus Andresen, spokesman for the German Greens in the EU Parliament, said the “unprecedented Italian slide to the right” will have massive repercussions for Europe and for the European Union.

“Italy, as a founding member and the third strongest economy in the EU, is heading for an anti-democratic and anti-European government.”

Though Meloni no longer wants Italy to leave the eurozone, she has said that Rome must assert its interests more and has policies that look set to challenge Brussels on everything from public spending rules to mass migration.

The Greens’ co-leader in Brussels, Thomas Waitz, told Die Welt that the EU can only function if it sticks together, for example on cooperation in energy markets, decisions on Russian sanctions or dealing with the Covid crisis. “Meloni, on the other hand, would back national go-it-alones. It can be a disaster for Europe,”  he said. 

READ ALSO: Euro falls to 20-year low against US dollar

The FDP’s expert on Europe, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, takes a similar view. He said on ARD’s Morgenmagazin that cooperation with Italy in the European Union will become more difficult. He said that it will now be much more difficult to achieve unity in Europe, especially on the issues of migration, reform of the Stability and Growth Pact and the single market.

Speaking on RTL, Green Party leader Omid Nouripour called the election results in Italy “worrying” and pointed out that people within the Italian right-wing nationalist alliance have “very close entanglements with the Kremlin”.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that people in Moscow also popped the corks last night,” he said.

Germany’s own far-right party – Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – has been celebrating the victory. 

AfD member of the Bundestag Beatrix von Storch wrote “We cheer with Italy!” on Twitter late Sunday evening.

Referring to the recent elections in Sweden, where the right was also successful, von Storch wrote: “Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: left-wing governments are so yesterday.”

Her party colleague Malte Kaufmann tweeted, “A good day for Italy – a good day for Europe.”

With reporting from AFP