The owner of a new Indian restaurant named after Adolf Hitler said the name and theme of his eateryare only meant to attract attention, butthe concept has outraged Mumbai's Jewish community.
When Hitler's Cross restaurant opened in a Mumbai suburb Sunday, local politicians and movie industry types were on hand to celebrate beneath the posters of the Nazi leader and swastikas.
"It's really made people very upset that a person responsible for the massacre of six million Jews can be glorified," Elijah Jacob, one of the Jewish community's leaders, said on Wednesday.
But owner Puneet Sablok has refused to back down. Apart from Mumbai's 4,500 Jews, there has been little controversy in India, where Holocaust awareness is limited, Adolf Hitler is regarded as just another historical figure and swastikas are an ancient Hindu symbol, displayed all over to bring luck. There are just 5,500 Jews in all of India.
"It's just to attract people. There is no intention to hurt anyone," said Sablok about his spacious restaurant, which serves pastries, pizza and salad in Navi Mumbai, a northern suburb.
Those objecting to the restaurant plan to ask the local government to force a name change, said Daniel Zonshine, Israel's consul general in Mumbai.
"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.
No plans to hold restaurant protest
But while India is ordinarily sensitive to causing religious offence— recently taking action to bar The Da Vinci Code movie and cartoon drawings of Muslim 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 were also quite happy eatingat Hitler's Cross.
"Hitler was a bad man, but what's wrong with having food here?" said Ashwini Phadnis, 22, a microbiology student, as she tucked away 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 shrugged.