UNITED KINGDOM, November 8, 2013: Tattoo parlors across the world are offering free swastika tattoos next week as part of an event to "reclaim" the symbol from the Nazis. Parlors have signed up to the worldwide scheme entitled "Learn to Love the Swastika" which aims to "spread knowledge and appreciation of the gentle swastika" before it was used by the Nazi Regime in World War 2.
For thousands of years, the swastika was seen as a symbol of peace and luck and remains one of the most prominent spiritual symbols in Hinduism, and Buddhism. The connotations of the symbol - at least in the western world - has since changed to one of hatred and anti-Semitism, after Adolf Hitler adopted the Swastika for the Nazi regime.
The campaign to "take back" the swastika began as a tribute to Canadian artist ManWoman, who campaigned for most of his life to reclaim the Swastika from the Nazis before his death last year. ManWoman, real name Patrick Charles Kemball, wrote a book called Gentle Swastika, Reclaiming the Innocence and covered his body in more than 200 swastikas as part of his campaign.
Now tattoo parlors from all over the world have agreed to offer free swastika tattoos on 13 November in order to educate people about the origins and true meaning of the Swastika. More than 170 artists across 40 countries have agreed to take part in the event, including parlors in the UK, US and even Germany.
One man wrote on the event's official Facebook page: "I am so happy to be booked in to get my swastika done I am really looking forward to it, It's been too long that the neo-nazi's have hijacked what is a symbol for love and peace. I will wear mine with pride."
Audrie Cabena, from Yankee tattoo parlor in Dundee, Scotland, told the Evening Telegraph: "I met ManWoman once and he was covered in swastikas. I think it is important to recover that symbol and educate people. 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. I'll talk to the people who come in and make sure they are doing it for the right reasons. I'm not saying it's safe to walk around with a swastika on you. You might get people making comments. But if I receive any backlash over this, I'll have to deal with it when it happens."
A spokesperson for Show Racism The Red Card in Scotland said she is against the free tattooing event. "Much as the swastika may have started as meaning one thing, fascism is what it represents now," she said.