Swastikas On Sale In Edgware, UK

by Jessica Baron

Members of the Edgware Jewish community expressed their distress this week after it was discovered that a local jewellery shop was selling swastika pendants.
TJ was alerted to the trade by reader Amanda Freeman. The mother-of-two had visited the store, Orlando, on Station Road, and said she was sickened by what she found.
“I don’t want to see young girls walking around with swastikas. It represents something revolting. I found it really offensive.”Our reporter visited the shop and found a wall display of pendants prominently placed behind the cash register offering several items, including swastikas. The shop assistant advised our reporter that some people recognise the charm as the Nazi symbol and thus find it offensive; nonetheless, no attempt was made to withdraw it from display or sale. When we questioned the presence of the swastikas, a man who identified himself as the manager said: “We don’t sell many because this is a Jewish area but if people order them then we will supply them. We got three or four orders recently...but we don’t normally display them.”When asked if he was aware of the offensive implications of this symbol, he said: “We are catering to everybody, not just Jews. We have many customers…we are not racist.”It is not illegal to sell the Nazi symbol in the UK. But Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust said: “We appreciate that the swastika is not exclusively a Nazi symbol, but for the vast majority of Jews and many others, it remains a symbol of unparalleled evil.”Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott, who founded the ‘45 Aid Society, told the Jewish News: “I find it abhorrent for people to walk around with swastikas and Nazi memorabilia. Either they don’t know what it signifies or they believe Hitler was a hero. Either way it is not acceptable.”The swastika is a sacred symbol in Hinduism and Jainism and evidence of its use has been found among several cultures in pre-Christian Europe. However its adoption by the Nazis and its subsequent association with the Holocaust has led to confusion about its status in the west. Ramesh Kallidai, Secretary General of the Hindu Forum of Britain, told TJ that it was common for Hindus to display swastikas on pendants, saris, pottery and religious artefacts.He added: “Historically the swastika was used for religious functions in much the same way as the Star of David in Judaism or the cross in Christian ceremonies. It represents the motion of the planets and the circle of life. “The swastika was misappropriated by the Nazis and used to symbolise one of the worst atrocities against humanity. But for the last 5,000 years it has been used as a spiritual symbol of peace.”