LAS VEGAS, July 26, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After the European soccer's governing body decided to punish the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for hosting a Euro 2016 qualifier (against Italy) on a field with an etched-in swastika, Rael, spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement, sent a letter of support to the president of the Croatian Soccer Federation.
"In the name of the Raelian Movement, we support your right to display a swastika without being punished for it. 1.5 billion Hindus and Buddhists use this symbol, which means peace and harmony, in their religions and in temples," Rael wrote.
Rael also wrote a letter of protest to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).
Raelian Guide Thomas Kaenzig, who is also president of a 501c3 tax-exempt group called the Proswastika Alliance, commented as well:
"By banning or punishing use of the swastika in Europe, authorities drop additional negativity onto this symbol that was so unjustly hijacked by the Nazis," he said. "Restoring the swastika's true meaning of peace and well being is the only way to stop further negative use of it."
Kaenzig blamed the media for escalating the controversy.
"It boosts ratings to declare there's racist intent behind a swastika drawn on a soccer field. But the swastika is an ancient and honorable symbol in many places around the world. Many cultures revered this symbol long before the Nazis came along. Until the mid 20th century, it had only positive meanings, including 'good luck'."
The UEFA decision is also discriminatory, Kaenzig said.
"Would the Croatia team have gotten all this negative publicity and lost points if a cross had been displayed on its field?" he asked. "Of course not! The Hindus, Buddhists and Raelians I represent in the Proswastika Alliance are rightfully angered by the repeated offenses against their symbol. We're calling for respect of their values and beliefs by allowing swastika displays without fines. We also need public education about the long pre-Nazi history of this symbol so that no one can ever again use it for anything other than its original meaning of peace and harmony."
Raelians from all over Europe are expected in Croatia next week for their annual Happiness Academy.
"Swastikas will be publicly displayed there, along with explanations of their true, peaceful meaning," Kaenzig said.
SOURCE Raelian Movement