A small plane carrying a banner of a swastika flew above Coney Island beaches over the weekend as part of an annual effort by the International Raelian Movement to resurrect it as a symbol for good instead of its hated representation of Nazi racism and fascism.
Among other beliefs, Nazis espoused racial purity and the desire to create the Aryan superman through eugenics and extermination of other groups, especially the Jews.
“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,” Councilman Mark Treyger, D-Brooklyn, said. He told the New York Daily News he had received complaints over the display.
According to its website, the Raelian Movement believes scientists came to Earth and “created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image.” The extraterrestrials picked a messenger, Rael — born Claude Vorilhon on Sept. 30, 1946, in France — to prepare the way for the arrival of the scientists from outer space.
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The Raelian Movement every year tries to remind people that before the Nazis, the swastika was an ancient symbol of well-being to Hindus and Buddhists, among others.
“ ‘Swastika Rehabilitation Week’ began on July 5, and we’ve already held events in about 20 cities in Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and South America,” Raelian Guide Thomas Kaenzig said on the group’s website. The group is not anti-Semitic, he told The Wall Street Journal. “We’re here to educate people, not offend people.”