Sikh Americans disappointed at Obama skipping Golden Temple

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Monday, November 1, 2010

WASHINGTON - Sikh Americans are still upset over US President Barack Obama’s decision to skip a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, saying the reasons given by the White House were not satisfactory.

“I deeply regret President Obama missed the opportunity to send a powerful message of global peace and harmony in the South Asian region and in the world,” said a community leader, who was at the forefront of the proposal for the US leader’s visit to the Sikhs’ holiest shrine.

“Harimandir Sahib, (Golden Temple) is sacred to all Indians and not just for Sikhs. Visiting there would show America’s respect for all faiths and traditions,” said Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education.

“Although he is winner of a Nobel peace prize, he would have been blessed at this spiritual oasis of peace,” Rajwant Singh told IANS. “Also this would have been a wonderful opportunity to show that America is not all about war and money.”

“A perception has been created wrongly or rightly that political and economic considerations can shift decisions by this White House,” Rajwant Singh said alluding to reports that Obama had dropped his plan to visit the Golden Temple to avoid wearing a head scarf that would strengthen a misperception that he was a Muslim.

“Not only Sikhs are disappointed but all Indians and many Americans as is evident from Indian blogs and American blogs. People are overwhelmingly upset with this decision,” Rajwant Singh said. “The reasons given by the White House is insufficient and does not specifically address the issue.”

Dr. I.J. Singh, a Sikh writer and a commentator on contemporary Sikh affairs, was also critical of Obama’s decision to visit Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi instead.

“It is not a simple trade off when one realises what each edifice represents,” Singh said noting, “Harmandar Sahib is a place of worship for millions.”

“Humayun’s Tomb is just that - a fine reminder of monarchical profligacy and excesses; the final resting place of a king, perhaps his lasting achievement in the sands of time.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

Filed under: Religion

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