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Earrings That Resemble Swastikas Raise Eyebrows In Greenpoint

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Brooklyn jewelry store was back-pedaling Wednesday after selling earrings shaped like swastikas.

Take a look at the earrings -- what do YOU see?

"An anti-Semitic message. I mean it's a swastika," said Jade Elzien of Greenpoint.

"It's super offensive, super offensive," added Dominika Nowicka.

The earrings have been on the shelves of Bejeweled, a jewelry store in Greenpoint, for the last six months and selling steadily, the owner told CBS 2's Kathryn Brown, until last week when one customer became offended, snapped a picture and it went viral.

"It looks like a German Gestapo thing to me," resident Michael Fornaro said.

If you look closely the earrings are actually the reverse of a swastika, but some said that doesn't matter.

"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 said.

Bill Akin with the Soka Gakkai Buddhist Association said the swastika originated as a Sanskrit symbol of peace and prosperity.

And that message is the same -- no matter which way its facing. But -- he acknowledged – its been tainted.

"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."

Young Kim owns the store and told Brown through an interpreter that she sells a lot of religious jewelry.

"It wasn't a symbol of hate. It was just representing that symbol for the Buddhists, the Tibetans, the Chinese," said Chris Sung, the store owner's friend.

Kim apologized for selling the earrings and has pulled the remaining earrings off store shelves. She said she won't be ordering any more and that she's learned a lesson in sensitivity -- the hard way.

The store owner said the earrings are made in India and she does not believe they are intended to be anti-Semitic.

What do you think of the earrings? Sound off in our comments section below.

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