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Posted at 10:30 AM ET, 09/06/2012

India’s ‘Hitler’ stores spark outrage

Israel has complained to the Indian state of Gujarat about a new men’s clothing store in Ahmedabad called “Hitler,” but the country’s diplomats have refused to compensate the store’s owner for a new sign.


A customer walks out of a garment store named "Hitler" in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad on Tuesday. (AMIT DAVE - REUTERS)

"We'd have 10,000 shops tomorrow," Orna Sagiv, Israel's consul general in Mumbai, told the Los Angeles Times. "We need him to understand it's wrong; we're not going to negotiate for money.”

The clothing store’s owners have come under fire in recent days for naming the store after the notorious mass murderer, with a swastika inside the dot of the “i.”

The owners have said they didn’t intend to name the store after Adolf Hitler, but rather after co-owner Manish Chandani’s grandfather, who earned the “Hitler” nickname for his strict demeanor.

Nevertheless, the name prompted sharp rebuke from both local and international Jewish groups.

"It is a perverse abuse of the history of the Holocaust to name a business after one of the world's most notorious mass murders and anti-Semites,"Abraham H. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor and director of the Anti-Defamation League in a statement.  

Chandani has expressed a willingness to choose a new name because of the outcry, but he is worried that a re-branding might negatively impact his sales.

"I've been getting a good response with the Hitler name; sales are good. I'm concerned that business could drop off once I change it," Chandani told the Los Angeles Times.

It isn’t the first time an Indian business has used the dictator’s name for marketing purposes.

"Hitler's name is seeping into India's popular culture without any appropriate context,”Foxman said.

Last year, Mumbai’s Zee TV network apologized to the ADL and renamed a show that had been called “Hitler Didi,” about a no-nonsense aunt.

In 2006, a Mumbai pizza restaurant called “Hitler’s Cross” changed its name to Cross Cafe soon after opening in response to pressure from India’s small Jewish community and international advocacy groups.

Hitler memorabilia has a curious popularity among the country’s young people, the BBC reported, although most seem drawn to his commanding personality rather than his war crimes.

Holocaust education isn’t as widespread in India as it is in Europe and the United States, and many Indians believe swastikas, an ancient Hindu symbol, bring good luck, Haaretz reported.

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By  |  10:30 AM ET, 09/06/2012

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