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The organizers of an international rally designed to improve the supposedly maligned reputation of the swastika expected to cause a furor when they hired a place to fly a banner featuring the Nazi symbol and they couldn't be happier with the results.
But their satisfaction came at the expense of people in New Jersey and New York who were upset to see the huge sign on Saturday equating swastikas with peace and love.
"It got the attention, so it was a success," said Thomas Kaenzig, organizer of "World Swastika Rehabiliation Day".
The event, the third of its kind, was designed to return the swastika to its original meaning, which in Sanskrit literally means "to be good," according to Kaenzig. The event was put on by a UFO religion known as the Raelians that claims to have 70,000 members. They believe the swastika is a symbol of the elohim, a race of extraterrestrials who they claim created humans.
Before Germany's Nazi Party embraced the swastika in the 1920s, for thousands of years it appeared on Hindu and Buddhist temples, in Native American artwork and even in Jewish synagogues in Israel.
Fellow Raelian Rick Roehr said the group's objective is to take back the swastika from the Nazis.