Mark Your Calendars! It's Swastika Rehabilitation Week!

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PRO SWASTIKA
A UFO cult called the Raelians is celebrating Swastika Rehabilitation Week through July 12. | proswastika.org
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In human history, few symbols arouse a furor like the Nazi swastika.

Yet, a UFO group called the Raelian International Movement is spending a whole week trying to rehabilitate the controversial image.

Swastika Rehabilitation Week officially began Saturday and runs through July 12.

The group claims it wants to change the image of the swastika from one representing genocide and racism to its ancient meaning of well-being and good luck.

Thomas Kaenzig, the head swastika rehabilitator, believes that the symbol was given to humans by the Elohim, a group of extraterrestrial scientists who created all of humankind.

"The swastika appears in ancient cultures all over the world," Kaenzig told The Huffington Post. "How can it be found everywhere despite these cultures having no contact with each other unless the Elohim were involved?"

He said it's the only way to show the Elohim that humans have evolved enough to accept them.

"Before they can come back, we need to make sure the symbol is rehabilitated," he said.

This is the fifth year that the Raelians have attempted to remove the Nazi stigma from the swastika. This week, there are rallies in 50 cities all over the world, including Lyon, France, and Seoul, South Korea.

"We have quite a few celebrations in Israel," Kaenzig said.

The week will climax in North America when planes with banners equating the symbol with peace and love fly over cities with large Jewish populations, like New York and Los Angeles.

One such effort in 2012 aroused criticism from Don Pripstein, president of the Jewish Community Center of Long Beach Island, New Jersey, who said that whatever the group's intentions are, the image is still horrific for many Jews whose relatives were killed in the Holocaust.

Kaenzig didn't seem bothered by how the message might be misinterpreted.

"It got the attention, so it was a success," Kaenzig told HuffPost at the time.

Since then, Kaenzig claims the rehabilitation efforts have been even more successful, to the point that the Anti-Defamation League released a statement last year acknowledging the Raelians "use the swastika not in its Nazi con­text but in its East Asian con­text as a sym­bol of good for­tune."

Kaenzig views this as a form of acceptance from Jews. It should be noted that the same release points out that in 2008, the Raelians' Israel spokesman, Leon Mel­lul, described Judaism as “prim­i­tive ideas from the Mid­dle Ages.”

Besides the rallies, and plane banners, Kaenzig says the Raelians have joined forces with members of other religions that use the swastika -- including Buddhists and Hindus -- to create an organization called the Pro Swastika Alliance.

Swastika Rehabilitation Week isn't the only wacky holiday organized by the Raelians.

In May, the group celebrates International Clitoris Awareness Week.

In August, it organizes Go Topless Day, a nationwide protest against what the organization considers to be sexist laws against women exposing their breasts in public.

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