India objects to US TV host's joke saying Golden Temple is summer home for US presidential candidate Mitt Romney
US chat show host Jay Leno is facing a furious backlash from the Sikh community after using an image of the Golden Temple for a political joke.
The Leno gag showed the temple as the summer home of US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Romney has faced taxation questions over his huge wealth and many Sikhs are angry the temple has been depicted as a place for the rich.
Divine comedy: Indian Sikhs have filed a petition after taking strong objection to his gag where he compares the holy shrine to Mitt Romney's summer home. File pic/afp
The Sikh community has launched an online petition and an Indian minister called the comments 'objectionable'. Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said, "It is quite unfortunate and quite objectionable that such a comment has been made after showing the Golden Temple."
Ravi said the Indian embassy would take up the matter with the US state department.
He said, "The Golden Temple is the Sikh community's most sacred place... The American government should also look at this kind of thing . Freedom does not mean hurting the sentiments of others... This is not acceptable to us and we take a very strong objection for such a display."
The skit appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC television on 19 January.
The online petition organised by members of the US Sikh community says Leno has been guilty of derogatory comments on Sikhs before. It adds that "Jay Leno's racist comments need to be stopped right here".
Petition signatory Simran Kaur said, "Jay Leno must apologise and promise not to make any direct or oblique references to Sikhs or their places of worship."
Leno has not yet commented on the matter.
Romney has been criticised by rival presidential candidates over his reluctance to release taxation records, which will reveal his earnings and the taxes he pays.
On Sunday he agreed to release his income tax records for 2010 and estimates for 2011.