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Swastika flown for 'rehabilitation'

June 25, 2012 at 5:08 PM

LONG ISLAND BEACH, N.J., June 25 (UPI) -- The religious movement behind a swastika banner pulled behind a plane in New Jersey said the stunt was about rehabilitating the symbol's image.

Police and Don Pripstein, president of the Jewish Community Center of Long Beach Island, said beachgoers at Long Beach Island filed complaints Saturday about the swastika flying behind a plane above a beach and the stunt was found to be carried out by the International Raelian Movement, a religious group that believes in a creator that reveals itself through unidentified flying objects, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Monday. The swastika has been generally associated with Nazi Germany and the atrocities committed by its forces since before World War II.

Thomas Kaenzig, a spokesman for the movement, said the banner, which also flew over New York, and a similar banner over Los Angeles, were a part of the third-annual Swastika Rehabilitation Day, which aims to "educate people about true meaning of the swastika."

Kaenzig said the symbol is sacred to some religions as a symbol for luck.

"We're aware of the link the many people make ... with Nazi ideology, and that's why we do have this rehabilitation day to give the swaskita back its true value," Kaenzig said. "People say it's offensive, [but] it's like saying you can't use the cross anymore because the Ku Klux Klan abused it."

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