Uzbek refugee sues Swedish shopping mall

A patriotic Uzbek refugee is seeking seeking 1 million kronor ($166,000) in damages from a shopping mall in southern Swedish for degrading the name of his hometown.

The man, who resides in Vaxjö, filed the suit because he feels the Samarkand mall in Vaxjö disrespects his hometown in eastern Uzbekistan, which is also called Samarkand, writes the Smålandsposten newspaper.

“Those who decided to use the holy city’s name for their shopping centre showed no respect for the city of Samarkand,” writes the man in court papers filed in Vaxjö, adding that nowhere does the mall make reference to the historic Uzbek town whose name it shares.

Founded in 700 BC and situated on the Silk Road trade route, the city of Samarkand received a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 2001. It is now the second largest city in Uzbekistan.

The angry Uzbek wants to use proceeds from his lawsuit to restore historic buildings and an orphanage in his hometown.

But Håkan Seiborg, chair of the Samarkand mall association, emphasized that he would not pay out any damage claim voluntarily.

“Samarkand has been used since the shopping centre opened in 1973 and was chosen after a naming competition,” he said to Smålandsposten.

According to the mall’s website, the name Samarkand was chosen in part because it brought together two Swedish words, samsas and marknad, which roughly translate as “shared market”.