Obama Skipping Sikh Temple Visit to Avoid Looking Muslim
President Obama is reportedly avoiding a visit to India's Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, for fear that he'll be accused of being a Muslim.
President Obama is reportedly avoiding a visit to India’s Harmandir Sahib, or Golden Temple, for fear that he’ll be accused of being a Muslim. ABC’s Russell Goldman and Jake Tapper:
On an upcoming trip to India, President Obama will skip visiting one of the country’s most sacred shrines out of fear that wearing the requisite headgear might make him appear Muslim, according to reports from the United States and India.
The New York Times, citing an unnamed American official involved in the trip’s planning, reports that the president will not stop at the Golden Temple, a Sikh holy site and one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, because visitors typically wear headscarves, turbans or Muslim caps.
Obama was to visit the sprawling golden complex in Amritsar, “but the plan appears to have foundered on the thorny question of how Mr. Obama would cover his head, as Sikh tradition requires, while visiting the temple,” wrote the Times.
“To come to golden temple he needs to cover his head,” Dalmegh Singh, secretary of the committee that runs the temple told the paper. “That is our tradition. It is their problem to cover the head with a Christian hat or a Muslim cap.”
Obama, who is a Christian, has repeatedly had to fend off accusations that he is secretly Muslim. An April poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that nearly 1 in 5 Americans believe the president is Muslim.
When a photo of then-Senator Obama dressed in a traditional white Kenyan turban was leaked by Hillary Clinton’s rival campaign during the 2008 presidential election, Obama called the image a “smear.”
Let’s hope this report is wrong because it would be truly embarrassing for the leader of the free world to risk insulting an important ally — the second most populous country on the planet — because it might fuel an idiotic conspiracy theory at home. Especially considering that the Sikhs aren’t even Muslim.
The NYT report has further background on the important of the temple, “Revered by Indians of all faiths, it is a cherished emblem of India’s religious diversity.”
For Mr. Obama, who will be seeking to cement the crucial but sometimes testy relationship between two of the world’s biggest democracies, the temple was one of several possible backdrops intended to convey America’s kinship with India. Mr. Obama will visit Mumbai and New Delhi.
H. S. Phoolka, a prominent Sikh lawyer in New Delhi, said he was disappointed that Mr. Obama would not visit the temple. “We have worked so hard to establish in America that Sikhs have a very different identity than Muslims,” Mr. Phoolka said. “It is very unfortunate that even the White House is conveying the message that there is no difference between Muslims and Sikhs.”
via Taegan Goddard