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Hitler Restaurant in Bombay Irks Jews

AIJAZ ANSARI / Associated Press | August 24 2006

BOMBAY, India - When a restaurant called "Hitler's Cross" opened four days ago in a Bombay suburb, the city's small Jewish community was outraged, but there were few other objections.

Owner Puneet Sablok insisted then and still does that the name and theme of his new eatery is only meant to attract attention, with its posters of Adolf Hitler and swastikas.

"There is no intention to hurt anyone," Sablok said of his spacious restaurant, which serves pastries, pizza and salad in Navi Mumbai, a northern suburb of Bombay, which is also known as Mumbai.

Holocaust awareness in India is limited. Hitler is regarded by many as just another historical figure. The swastika, reviled in many parts of the world, is also an ancient Hindu symbol and displayed all over to bring luck.

There are just 5,500 Jews in India, and all but 1,000 live in Bombay.

"It's really made people very upset that a person responsible for the massacre of 6 million Jews can be glorified," Elijah Jacob, one of the community's leaders, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Those objecting to the restaurant plan to ask the local government to force a name change, said Daniel Zonshine, Israel's consul general in Bombay.

"Instead of Hitler's name being an example of extreme evil, this is like giving legitimacy to Hitler. It's not right to advertise his name in public," Zonshine said.

But while India is ordinarily sensitive to causing religious offense it recently took action to bar "The Da Vinci Code" movie and cartoon drawings of the prophet Muhammad at least one local leader said the name Hitler didn't bother him.

"People are unnecessarily making this into an issue," said Sudhir Jadhav, a local ruling party leader. "We have no plans to protest outside the restaurant or ask him to change the name."

Diners at Hitler's Cross also had no objections.

"Hitler was a bad man, but what's wrong with having food here?" said Ashwini Phadnis, 22, a microbiology student as she ate a piece of chocolate cake.

Engineering student Anand Dhillon sat with friends, sipping soft drinks. "I think the name is quite interesting. Tomorrow if someone keeps a name like 'Saddam Mutton Shop' or 'George Bush Footwear,' there's nothing wrong with that, is there?" he asked.

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