They believe that the symbol was, and still is, abused by nazis and should regain its original meaning, writes Guardian.
Long Island beachgoers were shocked last month by the sight of a light aircraft trailing a flag with a huge swastika on it and a web address: proswastika.org. Who was responsible for what has become a symbol of hate flying overhead and interrupting the peace of the beach? Neo-nazis? Cray provocateurs? Neither. The banner belonged to the Raelians, the world largest UFO-religion.
Raelians are not neo-nazis or far-right extremists. They believe that a race of aliens called the Elohim created Earth and passed on their knowledge to a select few ‘chosen ones’ including Moses, Jesus and Buddha. The UFO-religion and the Raelian Church was formed and established by French racing-car journalist Claude Vorilhon. They have gained than 55,000 followers worldwide and the Swastika is one of their most important symbols.
The origin of the swastika dates back to 2000 BC, when it was used in China, South Asia and even Africa. The Sanskrit sign originally symbolised peace, good luck and harmony. Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich later went on to adopt it in 1920.
For Raelians, the Nazis hijacked and abused the ancient symbol. “As long as we associate the swastika with Hitler and the horrors of the Nazi regime, they own it,” argues Thomas Kaenzig, head of the pro-swastika movement. “We want to take it back. The swastika is an ancient symbol of good luck and harmony. It can be found all over the world.”
The pro-swastika movement recognises that what it represents today still offends millions of people.“If somebody associates the swastika with something negative, then I feel offended,” says Kaenzig. “It’s part of our official symbol. What about our feelings? When we flew the flag on the East Coast it wasn’t to incite hatred, but to educate.”
A few days prior to the Long Island stunt, an advert for the movement played on a big screen in Times Square, New York, in which people formed a swastika in a swimming pool. Kaenzig says the message received a mostly positive response.