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Golden Temple jibe: India takes up issue with US
US defends TV host’s right to free speech
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, January 24
Strongly objecting to the remark on the Golden Temple by popular US television host Jay Leno, India has formally taken up the matter with the US authorities.

Arun K Singh, Deputy Chief of the Indian mission in Washington, met Robert Blake, a senior diplomat in the Obama administration dealing with South and Central Asia affairs, and conveyed New Delhi’s displeasure over Leno’s comment, official sources said.

Leno, the host of the popular ‘The Tonight Show’ on NBC channel, flashed a picture of the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of Sikhs, on his programme and termed it as a possible summer home of Republic presidential candidate Mitt Romney

“We have also written to the TV channel strongly objecting to Leno’s remark,” the sources added.

The US government has, meanwhile, cited freedom of speech enshrined in the US Constitution, to defend Leno. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Leno’s remarks appeared to be satirical in nature.

She said the US had absolute respect for all religions, including Sikhs, and that President Obama was the first President to celebrate the birthday Guru Nanak at the White House. “Our view is obviously that Sikh Americans have contributed greatly to the US,’’ she added. American Sikhs have, however, launched an online protest campaign against Leno.

Book Leno: SGPC to USA

Amritsar: The SGPC on Tuesday appealed the US government to register a case against the TV host. In a statement released here, SGPC Chief Avtar Singh Makkar said it has hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs living across the globe, adding that this has brought to the fore the "communal mindset" of the TV host. He said the Golden Temple is the holiest shrine of Sikhs and thousands of people pay obeisance there daily, adding that the matter could not be taken lightly. — TNS





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