Shop owner defends selling 'neo-Nazi' brand
The controversial Thor Steinar clothes store in North Finchley.
A London shop owner under fire for selling clothes favoured by neo-Nazis insists his store has no connection with right-wing extremists.
Zsolt Mogyorodi opened the Viking Thor shop stocking Thor Steinar clothes, a German brand that has been described as the far-right's favourite outfitter.
The shop, located in North Finchley, just yards from the office of Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, has been criticised by Jewish residents and communal groups.
But Mr Mogyorodi insists he has no time for the extremists who wear the brand. He said: "Thor Steinar clothes are not Nazi, and the brand doesn't associate with them at all. The right-wing people wearing the clothes are idiots and have made it hard for us."
He added that he was upset that a British neo-Nazi website had published a link promoting the shop to their page.
Gothic script adorns a T-shirt produced by the brand
Mr Mogyorodi said: "We can't control what they wear or promote. I contacted the website and told them to remove any link to us. I made it very clear I don't want to be involved with them. I don't agree with anything they say. I just want to sell the clothes.
"I wish they hadn't posted anything about us because now everyone is saying the shop is Nazi."
Thor Steiner's original logo resembled the insignia of the SS under Hitler.The company, which was set up in 2002, has since adopted a second, less controversial symbol.
Thor Steiner stores in Germany have been attacked with paint-bombs and graffiti, and the wearing of the brand is banned in the German parliament and state assemblies in parts of Germany.
Residents in North Finchley - which has a large Jewish community - described the opening of Viking Thor as "deliberately provocative" and fear it will attract racist thugs to the area.
The Community Security Trust, which monitors antisemitism, said it was watching the situation closely.Mark Gardner, director of communications, said: "Jews do not need this in Finchley, but neither does any other community.
"We will work with police and politicians to do whatever is possible to lessen its impact. Ideally, we would like to see it moved on, but it remains to be seen if the law is actually being broken."
Chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock said the shop was "an unwelcome addition to any high street. Nothing that encourages neo-Nazi activity in Britain should be tolerated."
But Mr Mogyorodi was adamant that the store would not attract extremists.
He said: "The symbol people are upset about is a Viking one which means bravery and warriors. Eighty per cent of people who like the brand in this area are eastern Europeans. It is very popular with them.
"I have customers from every nation, and people come and see me daily. I want to be part of the community.
A recent visit to the shop revealed no clothing with obvious neo-Nazi symbols.
Customer Martin Grigore, 40, a Polish resident of North Finchley, said he had bought a jacket when the store first opened. He said: "I had no idea of the Nazi connotations. I heard about it on the radio after. I think it is ridiculous. This is a popular brand in Poland - like adidas in the UK.
"Just because a small group of people who are stupid are wearing the clothes doesn't mean it is the brand's fault. I like the clothes - they are good quality and unique - but that doesn't make me a Nazi."