Washington, Oct. 28 (ANI): The American Sikh community has said that President Barack Obama is not visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar because he harbours fears of negative image fallout with him being partially Muslim by birth.
Refusing to buy the White House explanation that India is a huge country and that it would not be possible for the president to take on too many events during his four-day visit from November 6 to 9, American Sikhs said they could not accept such a view.
"I'm not really buying it. I think the administration has been struggling with the false accusation that the president is Muslim. It is not out of the realm of possibility that these fears drove the cancellation. The administration is going to have to figure out how to make this up to the Sikh American community and the Sikh community worldwide," Politico quoted Sapreet Kaur, the executive director of the Sikh Coalition, as saying in a statement.
"If somebody doesn't want to come, then they should not come for the right reasons and not hide behind these sort of excuses," added Jasjit Singh, the associate executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
He added: "He's playing the game, and that's what's unfortunate."
"It would have been a huge moment, a seminal moment, for President Obama to come there and kind of show to the world that this is a vibrant religious minority here," said Hansdeep Singh, an attorney for United Sikhs.
"It is disappointing," he added.
An official familiar with the visit said the discussion about Obama's itinerary started six months ago, but that changes can be made for any number of reasons.
Singh said of Obama. "By canceling his visit, what does he do? He's emboldening those who are seeking to divide us."
Hansdeep Singh said the United Sikhs would "continue to push" Obama to visit Sikh shrines in the United States and abroad.
"We want to have a continuing dialogue with the White House," he said. (ANI)