Earrings that resemble swastikas are causing an uproar in Greenpoint, a northern neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.
Bejeweled, a store that features some religious jewelry, started selling the earrings six months ago. Owner Young Kim told CBS station WCBS in New York that the earrings had been selling without controversy until a customer took a picture of them and posted it online, where it went viral.
"The way that it would be worn by many who would walk around with those earrings would be conveyed as a hateful message," City Councilman Steve Levin told WCBS.
The swastika is still used in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in India, and has been used by Buddhists in China. The reversed image of the swastika gained prominence as the symbol of the Nazi Party and has been associated with anti-semitism ever since.
Bill Akin with the Soka Gakkai Buddhist Association told WCBS that the symbol originated as a Sanskrit symbol of peace and prosperity. The earrings face the traditional way swastikas face, not the way the Nazi symbol does. However, he admitted that the meaning has been tarnished - no matter which way the swastika faces.
"This is a symbol we've only seen associated with Nazi Germany," Akin said. "I think the Nazis manipulated and twisted both the fundamental meaning of the symbol as well as the physical appearance of the symbol."
The shop owner argued to WCBS through a translator that the jewelry was made in India and was never meant to incite hate. She has apologized for selling the earrings and has pulled them from the shelves.