India objects to 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”.


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Published: Tue 24 Jan 2012, 11:41 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 11:22 AM

Visiting Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said on 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 on Thursday.

In a dig at Romney’s privileged background during a show last week, Leno used a photo of the ornate Sikh shrine in the northwestern Indian city of Amritsar during a segment on the vacation homes of US Republican presidential candidates.

Angry members of the Sikh community in the US circulated an online petition protesting the “derogatory depiction” of the Golden Temple, adding that “Jay Leno’s racist comments need to be stopped right here”. 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.

A spokesman for India’s foreign ministry in New Delhi said it was up to the Indian ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, if she wanted to lodge a complaint over the joke.

“The ministry has not taken up this issue, but the ambassador does not require the ministry’s authorisation. She is authorised to make a complaint anyway, but I do not know if she has done so,” he said.

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