Indian officials have expressed anger at a comment by US talk show host and comedian Jay Leno about the Golden Temple of Amritsar; the shrine considered the centre of the Sikh religion.
In a skit for Leno’s long-running ‘The Tonight Show’ the thick-jowled comedian showed the Temple as the summer home of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mr Romney has faced questions over alleged tax evasion in recent days and many Sikhs are angry the Temple has been depicted as a place for the rich.
The Sikh community has launched an online petition and an Indian minister called the comments “objectionable”. Indian External Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said the Indian embassy in the US would take up the matter with the State Department, according to the Press Trust of India.
Mr Ravi added, “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.”
The online petition organised by members of the US Sikh community 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”.
Petition signatory Simran Kaur says: “Jay Leno must apologise and promise not to make any direct or oblique references to Sikhs or their places of worship.”
Leno has not yet commented on the matter.
Mr Romney has been criticised by rival presidential candidates over his reluctance to release taxation records, which will reveal his earnings and the taxes he pays.
On Sunday he agreed to release his income tax records for 2010 and estimates for 2011.
– Vijitha Alles