Obama Skipping Sikh Temple to Dodge Muslim Rumors

Source says head covering was an issue

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 20, 2010 4:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – President Obama won't be visiting Sikh worshipers' holiest site on his upcoming trip to India because he doesn't want to fuel rumors that he is a Muslim, a US official tells the New York Times. Visitors to Amritsar's Golden Temple are required to cover their heads and the White House doesn't want pictures surfacing of the president wearing a headscarf or turban, the source says. A recent poll found that one in five Americans believes Obama is a Muslim.

Sikh tradition requires the head covering to be tied, and religious authorities are reportedly split over whether a modified baseball cap would be acceptable. A prominent Sikh lawyer says he's disappointed that Obama won't be visiting the holy site. "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."

A Sikh religious soldier listens to a speaker inside the Golden Temple.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
A Sikh devotee pays obeisance as he takes a dip in the holy pond outside Amritsar's Golden Temple.   (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Devotees throng the Golden Temple, Sikhism's holiest shrine, on the anniversary of the first Sikh guru's birth.   (AP Photo/Prabhjot Gill)
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