Last Saturday, handfuls of people around the world celebrated the fourth annual “Swastika Rehabilitation Day,” an event dedicated to putting the Nazi symbol in a more positive light. The festivities included planes carrying swastika banners over New York City and revelers with swastika facepaint and signs designed to highlight the symbol’s pre-Hitler roots. Swastika Rehabilitation Day was sponsored by the Raelian movement, a religion based on the teachings of a French man named Claude Vorilhon (A.K.A Rael) who claims he learned the true origins of humanity during a “dramatic encounter with a human being from another planet” in 1973.
“It’s been used for thousands of years as a symbol of well being and good luck, so when Westerners interpret it as meaning something ugly just because the Nazis used it, our society denies millions of people the right to live their religion freely,” Thomas Kaenzig, a “Raelian Guide” and president of the Pro-Swastika Alliance said in a statement announcing the plans for Swastika Rehabilitation Day last week.
Photos of the Swastika Rehabilitation Day celebrations posted on a “Rehabilitate The Swastika” Facebook page show events in several locations around the world including Las Vegas, the Dominican Republic, San Francisco, Mexico, France, Italy, and Tel Aviv, among others. In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Kaenzig said “hundreds” of people participated in these events. There are also pictures of a plane carrying a banner with symbols depicting the equation “Swastika Equals Peace Plus Love” that the group said flew “along the Long Island coast line as well as up the Hudson river in New York City.” The banners also displayed a link to the Pro-Swastika Alliance website.