Tattoo parlors all over the world offered free swastika tattoos on Wednesday in an effort to “reclaim” the symbol from the Nazis.
More than 120 tattoo parlors took part in the “Learn to Love the Swastika” campaign this week. More than 170 artists in 40 countries, including the US, UK, and Germany, participated.
People who received the tattoo signed a form confirming that it was not a neo-Nazi statement, said Peter Madsen, an artist at the Copenhagen Meatshop tattoo parlor.
“We had to stop taking in people after the 54th client,” said Madsen.
The campaign is meant “to reclaim this symbol, which the Nazis abused, and restore it to its original meaning in India, where it has served for thousands of years as a sign of peace and goodness,” he said.
The swastika, originally an ancient Buddhist and Hindu symbol for peace, has been banned as hate-speech in several European countires since World War II.
Jewish communities were shocked by the campaign to embrace the symbol.
“I believe that a symbol that was once something else, but which the Nazi took hostage, cannot just be washed clean,” Finn Schwarz, president of the Jewish Congregation of Copenhagen, told mx.dx.
Madsen said it’s neo-Nazi’s who are wrong about the symbol, while 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.”
“I think it is important to recover that symbol and educate people,” Audrie Cabena, of Yankee tattoo parlor in Dundee, Scotland, told the Evening Telegraph. "It's been a peace symbol for thousands of years, but it's now seen as a symbol of hatred because of a relatively short amount of time."
She said it's important to educate people about the symbol.
"I'll talk to the people who come in and make sure they are doing it for the right reasons," she added.