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By Helen Luk
Hong Kong - German and Israeli diplomats have lashed out at a Hong Kong fashion company for using swastikas and other Nazi party symbols in a clothing line and to decorate its chain of stores.
IZZUE produces a range of T-shirts and pants with Nazi symbols printed on them. One T-shirt has a portrait of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler standing on a laurel.
Red banners with white swastikas on top of iron crosses hung Saturday from the ceilings of some of the firm's 14 stores. The banners also carried a sign that resembled the symbol of the Third Reich: an eagle above a swastika. One branch broadcast Nazi propaganda films on a wall with a projector.
"It's totally inappropriate because these symbols of the Nazi regime stand for cruelty and crimes against humanity," a vice consul of the German Consulate General in Hong Kong said on condition of anonymity.
"These symbols brought a lot of pain not only over Europe, but over the whole world. It's definitely not the way to promote clothes."
The diplomat urged the public to boycott the shops.
The company's marketing manager, Deborah Cheng, said the Nazi-themed decorations and clothes were not intended to cause an outcry and may be withdrawn. She said the company had received a few complaints from customers.
"We're seriously considering removing the displays. But before we take them off, we have to find a replacement," she said.
Cheng added that the designer wanted the clothes to have a military theme and did not realise that the Nazi symbols would be considered offensive.
Staff at one of the stores tried to stop an Associated Press photographer from taking pictures of the shop and tied up the lower part of the banners to hide the Nazi symbols.
Israeli Consul-General Eli Avidar said the consulate has received dozens of complaints about the displays in the past two days, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported on its front-page Saturday.
"People were furious, hurt and shocked that such a thing could happen," Avidar was quoted as saying. "It is unbearable to think that anyone can design a marketing campaign that desecrates the deaths of millions of people."
Phone calls to the Israeli Consulate General in Hong Kong went unanswered Saturday.
In April, soft drink giant Coca-Cola pulled a promotional robot figurine adorned with what appeared to be Nazi swastikas following criticism from a Jewish leader in Hong Kong. - Sapa-AP