A banner promoting a website called proswastika.org outraged New Yorkers when it was towed by plane over several local beaches on Saturday.
The banner displayed a swastika, a Star of David, a peace sign and a heart symbol, in addition to the URL of the website, the New York Post reported.
It was created by the International Raelian Movement, a group that apparently believes the swastika was co-opted by the Nazis and needs to be rehabilitated.
The banner, which was flown up and down beaches along the coast of Long Island, outraged thousands of local residents.
“Was there any kind of pre-screening, pre-clearance of what was going to be flown over?” asked New York Council Member Mark Treyger, grandson of Holocaust survivors, who represents Coney Island.
“I will not accept their twisted logic,” the Democratic councilman told CBS New York. “And I am also going to speak out against sending chilling messages of fear and intimidation to residents.”
“Flying this hateful banner is an outrageous and hurtful act,” City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told the Daily News.
Loren Azimov, of Brighton Beach, agreed. “I was dumbfounded by it," he said. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors."
However, the Raelians were unfazed. “As long there are people still offended by it, it means we need to continue our work, to continue to rehabilitate the symbol," said Thomas Kaenzig, a spokesman for the group.
“By keeping the negative connotation of the swastika and linking it to Hitler, you only give credit to this guy’s monstrosity. It’s very important to reclaim it and explain to the public that this symbol has a beautiful origin."
The banner flyover was the culmination of what the group called "Swastika Rehabilitation Week."
Raelians believe in an “atheist intelligent design theory,” in which cosmic scientists cloned life on earth and now return in UFOs to visit. For them, the swastika embedded in a Star of David represents the infinity of time and space.
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