India, US Sikh group object to Golden Temple comments

Washington, Jan 25 - As India officially took up the issue of popular TV show host Jay Leno's objectionable depiction of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, a US based Sikh rights group lodged a complaint with Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Indian Deputy Chief of Mission Arun Kumar Singh met US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake Tuesday and conveyed India's objection to Leno passing off a visual of the Golden Temple as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's vacation home.

The Indian mission has also written a "strong letter" to NBC, which broadcast Leno's "The Tonight Show" featuring the joke Thursday.

Meanwhile, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) has lodged a complaint with the broadcasting regulator FCC against Leno's objectionable depiction of Golden Temple.

The SFJ complaint filed with Joel Gurin, bureau chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at FCC, states that "Jay Leno's depiction of Golden Temple as the home of the rich is racist, derogatory, defamatory, contrary to the reality, inimical to the principles of Sikhism, and thus hurtful to the sentiments of the Sikh community".

The complaint demands imposition of sanctions against Jay Leno for spreading racism and against NBC for airing contents ridiculing a place of worship.

"While we value and honour freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment, it is not a tool to ridicule a religion or to spread untrue, biased and racist information," SFJ legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said.

SFJ also plans to hold a protest rally Feb 2 in front of NBC Headquarters in New York City to demand the sacking of Leno for his remarks about Golden Temple.

However, the US has defended Leno's right to free speech terming his comments as "satirical", while appreciating the great contributions of Sikh-Americans to the US. (IANS)