The controversial banner was seen by beachgoers in New York and New Jersey, and while many were offended, the intent was just the opposite, according to NBC 4 New York.
Thomas Kaenzig, spokesperson for the International Raelian Movement told NBC 4 the group sponsored the banners in an attempt to reclaim a symbol they believe was “hijacked by the Nazis.”
“As long there are people still offended by it, it means we need to continue our work, we need to continue to rehabilitate the symbol,” Kaenzig said.
The group’s website, ProSwastika.org, says the word “swastika” means “any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote good luck.” It notes that the symbol is one of the oldest on earth and can be found “can be found in all religions and traditions, on all continents.”
But not everyone approves of the group’s marketing efforts.
“I am deeply offended and hurt,” Brooklyn Councilman Mark Treyger said. “Try explaining to someone who witnessed their loved ones who were butchered by people under that Nazi symbol that it’s anything but a hateful one.”
“Swastika Rehabilitation Week” began on July 5 with events in about 20 cities in Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and South America, according to ProSwastika.org. Over the weekend, beaches adjacent to New York City, Miami and other locations over North America were targeted by the campaign.
Kaenzig said in a release on the website that the Raelian Movement launched an offshoot group, the ProSwastika Alliance, hoping to unite all religions that “cherish the swastika.”
“501c3 tax exemption status for the alliance is pending,” he said. “We’ve submitted the IRS application.”
Good luck with that.
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