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Some Fremont Residents Balk At ‘Little Kabul’ District Renaming

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A sign marks the Centerville District of Fremont, which is known by some as "Little Kabul" (CBS)

A sign marks the Centerville District of Fremont, which is known by some as “Little Kabul” (CBS)

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FREMONT (CBS 5) – The idea of renaming a portion of Fremont that is home to many Afghani-Americans as ‘Little Kabul’ is being met with opposition by several residents and business owners.

The area in question has long been known as Centerville, which is a source of pride for Fremont Flowers owner Dirk Lorenz.

“It’s a name that spans decades,” said Lorenz, who claims his business would suffer if the name change to Little Kabul became official. “My business is a traditional, Christian-style business. It celebrates specific holidays throughout year that, perhaps in Afghan culture, are not celebrated.”

A group known as “The Committee to Reclaim Centerville” has recently been formed to prevent the name change. The organization is printing up Centerville T-shirts, and holding a meeting in support of the Centerville name on September 4th.

The city hasn’t received a formal application for the name change, and Vice Mayor Sue Chan said the Centerville title has too much historic significance to get rid of it.

“Centerville is Centerville. We want to celebrate that,” said Chan.

The head of the Afghan Coalition, the largest Afghan-American organization in the U.S., lobbied for the ‘Little Kabul’ name shortly after 9/11, but dropped the plan after backlash developed.

“We found out it’s a very historic place, so of course we will respect that,” said Afghan Coalition Executive Director Rona Popal. “We just want to promote both Centerville and Little Kabul … We want to make a tourist attraction which is going to be a good engine to drive the economy.”

Popal said local Afghans in Centerville are especially sensitive about this issue with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 coming up. She said the Afghan Coalition has already begun to reach out to different groups to start a dialogue for better understanding.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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