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.
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.
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.
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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