NEW YORK, July 14 (UPI) -- Beach-going visitors and residents of Coney Island and Long Island got an unexpected shock Saturday when a banner advertising the Nazi swastika as a sign of peace flew overhead.
The banner was sponsored by ProSwastika.org, a religious coalition that seeks to re-associate the symbol with international religions and global peace instead of Nazi history and contemporary hate groups. It depicted a swastika over a Star of David followed by the group's website and an "equation" that read: "[swastika] + [peace sign] = [heart]."
"Although most people in the West don't realize it, the swastika is still a revered symbol for billions of Asians, for whom it signifies good luck and good will," says Thomas Kaenzig of the International Raelian Movement.
"There's even a town in upstate New York that was named 'Swastika' after gold was found there a century ago."
For Raelians, Hindus and Buddhists, the swastika or extremely similar iconography represents the concept of infinity, an idea that is, to some, sacred. But for many people, the symbol will always be synonymous with the genocide committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, as well as with 21st-century white supremacists.
"I will not accept their twisted logic," New York City Councilman Mark Treyger told CBS New York. Treyger represents Coney Island in City Hall.
"I am ... going to speak out against sending chilling messages of fear and intimidation to residents."