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Pro-swastika group flies offensive symbol over New York in bid to change its meaning

Religious group claim symbol is not anti-Semitic, flies it over area of largest remaining number of holocaust survivors

A pro-swastika group stunned New York beachgoers when it flew a banner bearing the symbol associated with Nazism and anti-Semitism over Coney Island.

The International Raelian Movement hired a plane and flew a banner brandishing the swastika next to a peace sign and a heart, followed by the website proswastika.org.

The group’s intention was to rehabilitate the swastika and promote its pre-Nazi meaning of peace and love as used by Hindus.

The flying of the banner over Coney Island and Brighton Beach in southern Brooklyn punctuated the end of a week-long series of events with the same intention.

“For thousands of years this symbol had only positive connotations,” Thomas Kaenzig, a spokesperson for the group, told the Wall Street Journal.

But New Yorkers did not feel the ‘love’; Councilman Mark Treyger told New York Daily News that he received several complaints over the aerial display, which was deemed as anti-Semitic and offensive, especially as it flew over an area housing World War II survivors.

“It’s a very chilling image, in light of the fact that southern Brooklyn has the largest remaining number of World War II and Holocaust survivors,” he said.

“There is no place for this in New York City.”

Pro-swastika sentiment is one branch of the Raelian Movement, a religious group whose symbol is a swastika inside the Star of David, and who believes scientists from another planet created life on Earth.

“Thousands of years ago, scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image,” the group’s website reads.

For years the group has carried out pro-swastika events on what they have dubbed as ‘Swastika Day’, but this is the first time they have carried out a full week of activity. The group said it has held events in nearly 20 cities across Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, South America and now the US.