India fumes at US TV host's joke on Golden Temple
Washington: India has objected to US television host Jay Leno passing off a visual of the Golden Temple in Amritsar as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's vacation home, terming it "quite unfortunate".
Visiting Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said Sunday he had directed Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao to take up with the State Department the issue, featured on Leno's "The Tonight Show" Thursday.
Romney, the super-wealthy Republican front-runner, is under fire for paying low taxes.
"It is quite unfortunate and quite objectionable that such a comment has been made after showing the Golden Temple," Ravi told Indian reporters here.
"The Golden Temple is Sikh community's most sacred place. Even our prime minister went there for praying in the New Year. I believe that the person who has shown it is not that ignorant. The American government should also look at this kind of thing," Ravi said.
"I wish this kind of thing is not shown by any media in the US," he said adding though he had not seen the show personally and had heard about it from the Sikh community.
"Freedom does not mean hurting the sentiments of others. This is not acceptable to us and we take a very strong objection for such a display of an important place like Golden Temple," he said.
"The embassy is fully aware of it and they will take it up," Ravi said.
The joke on the Leno' show has angered the Sikh community in the US which has launched an online petition against Leno and started a Facebook page to express their outrage.
The online petition says Leno has been guilty of derogatory comments on Sikhs before. It adds that "Jay Leno's racist comments need to be stopped right here".
"Jay Leno must apologise and promise not to make any direct or oblique references to Sikhs or their places of worship," says petition signatory Sian Kaur.
Leno has not yet commented on the matter.