Tattoo Parlors Packed for Free Swastika Day

Movement seeks to 'reclaim' ancient symbol from the Nazis

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 14, 2013 12:35 AM CST

(Newser) – If you ever wanted a swastika permanently inked on your body, then yesterday would have been your lucky day. More than 120 tattoo parlors around the world were offering free swastikas—not to salute the Nazis, but as part of a controversial movement to reclaim the symbol that was a Hindu and Buddhist sign of luck, peace, or strength for thousands of years, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports. The owner of the Meatshop tattoo parlor owner in Copenhagen says dozens of people turned up for free tattoos and he had to turn people away after the 54th client.

But Jewish leaders say the "Learn to Love the Swastika" campaign is misguided and in bad taste. "I believe that a symbol that was once something else, but which the Nazis took hostage, cannot just be washed clean," says the president of the Jewish Congregation of Copenhagen. The Meatshop's owner says clients getting swastika tattoos have to promise they're not neo-Nazis—and if any fascists do end up getting freebies, they "may think they are wearing a symbol of racism but that doesn’t change the fact they are actually wearing on their bodies the symbol for a better world."

A swastika symbol inside a Buddhist temple in Tokyo.
A swastika symbol inside a Buddhist temple in Tokyo.   (?)
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