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Scottish tattoo parlours to offer free swastika inkings in bid to 'reclaim' symbol

Event aimed at highlighting peaceful roots of symbol but anti racism campaigners have condemned the move

Five tattoo parlours in Scotland will be offering free swastika tattoos on Wednesday as part of a global event to “reclaim” the symbol.

The worldwide initiative branded "Learn to Love the Swastika", is being held on the first anniversary of the death of a Canadian artist and poet called ManWoman, who was covered in swastika tattoos.

ManWoman spent decades trying to restore the image of the swastika - an ancient image of peace in Hinduism and Buddhism - tainted by its use in Nazi Germany.

He claimed to have been prompted to start the campaign after a series of dreams and wrote a book on the subject titled "Gentle Swastika, Reclaiming the Innocence."

Writing on Facebook, organisers said the event, which will see tattoo parlours across the world participating, was set up to “spread knowledge and appreciation of the gentle swastika”.

Audrie Cabena, who works at Yankee Tattoo Parlour in Dundee - one of the shops taking part - told the Evening Telegraph: “I met ManWoman once and he was covered in swastikas. I think it is important to recover that symbol and educate people really.

“It has been a peace symbol for thousands of years, but it is now seen as a symbol of hatred just because of a relatively short amount of time.

“I will talk to the people that come in on Wednesday and make sure they are doing it for the right reasons.

“I’m not saying it is safe to walk around with a swastika on you and you might get people making comments. But if I receive any backlash over this then I will have to deal with it when it happens.”

Anti-racism campaigners have condemned the event. A spokeswoman for Show Racism The Red Card in Scotland told the Daily Record: “I’m shocked – really shocked – by this. I’m appalled.

“I don’t think anyone today would see the swastika as a peace symbol, and I would advise against any legitimate tattooing business doing this.

“Much as the swastika may have started as meaning one thing, fascism is what it represents now.”