President Nixes Temple Visit For Fear of Appearing Muslim

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

President Barack Obama has decided not to visit a famous Sikh holy site during his upcoming visit to India because visitors are required to wear headscarfs or turbans, which the president fears will reinforce a growing belief in America that he is a Muslim.

According to an article appearing in The New York Times, the president has decided not to visit the famous Golden Temple in India next month so as to avoid having to be photographed in a turban.  He has been struggling to convince the American public that he is not a Muslim, even though his position on the New York City mosque controversy and other pro-Muslim comments and affairs he has hosted at the White House have convinced one in five Americans that he is a Muslim.

The decision is rankling many, however, particularly the Sikhs who are not Muslim but are a sect that blends elements of Hinduism and Islam into an entirely different faith. Unfortunately, Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims, which happened in the U.S. just after the World Trade Center attack when a Sikh was killed in Arizona. 

As a prominent Sikh lawyer told the Times, the president’s decision to skip the site was a disappointment.   “We have worked so hard to establish in America that Sikhs have a very different identity than Muslims,” he said. “It is very unfortunate that even the White House is conveying the message that there is no difference between Muslims and Sikhs.”

THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy, an international inter-religious non-profit organization devoted to ensuring religious freedom, also expressed dismay at the president’s decision.

“The Obama Administration has an abysmal record on international religious freedom issues. This could have been an unique and historic opportunity for the president to stand in the holiest shrine of an often-discriminated religious minority and to speak for the rights of all minorities around the globe,” commented THE INSTITUTE’s Founder and Chairman of the Board, Joseph K. Grieboski.
“By turning down a visit to the Golden Temple, President Obama disappoints not only the global Sikh community, but also every religious minority in the world who saw his visit as a demonstrable sign of support for their rights,” continued Mr. Grieboski. “Instead of standing for religious freedom and against religious intolerance, President Obama has caved in to an ignorant minority in the United States who hide behind a conspiracy theory that he is a Muslim.”
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