Ya just can't make this shit up. NO ONE would believe it.
Obama May Cancel Visit to Sikh Shrine Because of Head-Covering Requirement
Thursday, October 21, 2010
By Patrick Goodenough
(CNSNews.com) – Reports that President Obama has decided not to visit a historic Sikh temple during his visit to India next month are sure to upset adherents of one of the world’s largest religions.
President Obama has been invited to visit the world’s biggest democracy by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – who happens also to be India’s first Sikh prime minister.
Reports from India attribute the White House decision to call off a planned visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to concerns that the head covering Obama would be expected to wear at the shrine might revive suspicions in the U.S. that the president is a Muslim.
Ironically, the fact that Sikhs are at times mistaken for Muslims was one of the reasons Sikh leaders in the U.S. welcomed the news that Obama would visit the site.
“We are confident that after Obama’s visit to the Golden Temple, the U.S. residents would come to know about the Sikhs and Sikhism in a better way,” Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said in a statement last week.
“This visit will also help remove misunderstanding about Sikhs in America and many of the difficulties Sikhs face due to mistaken identity and security barriers,” he said.
Singh, who has been invited to the White House several times, wrote a letter to the president in July, telling him that his visit to the Golden Temple would demonstrate “America’s respect for all faiths and traditions.”
Sikhs are followers of a monotheistic religion that emerged in India in the 15th century and has an estimated 25 million adherents today, the vast majority in India’s Punjab state but with sizeable communities in the U.S., Britain and Canada.
Sikhs follow the teachings of ten 15th-17th century gurus, and they believe in reincarnation. Their doctrines have little in common with Islam, but they have lived alongside Muslims for centuries, facing periods of severe persecution at times.
Sikh men do not cut their hair, and they wear turbans as an article of religious identity. Sikh organizations in Western countries frequently report incidents of Sikhs facing harassment or maltreatment at the hands of people who have mistaken them for Muslims or Arabs.
Sikhs in Western countries are sometimes mistaken for Muslims. After the 2005 London terrorist bombings, the slogan “Don’t freak, I’m a Sikh” began to appear on clothing and badges in British cities.
After terrorists bombed the London transportation network in 2005, T-shirts, badges and other paraphernalia began appearing in Britain bearing variations of the slogan, “Don’t freak, I’m a Sikh.”
Sikhism stresses tolerance of other faiths, and Sikhs often point out that the cornerstone of their most revered building – the Golden Mosque – was laid more than 400 years ago, not by a Sikh guru but by a prominent Muslim.
Sikh men keep their heads covered, and visitors to the shrine are expected to do so, too. When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the shrine late last year, he was photographed wearing headgear fashioned from white cloth.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday that the schedule for Obama’s visit to India has yet to be finalized.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Gibbs did not directly respond to a question about the reported cancellation of the temple visit, but said, “We pick sites on foreign trips based on what the president wants to accomplish.”
“Look, it’s a big country,” he added. “We’d love to spend a lot more than the three allotted days that we have in India. This trip will focus our business on Mumbai and in the cities of Mumbai and New Delhi.”
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), an India-based representative body sometimes called the Sikh parliament, sent a letter to the White House urging Obama not to cancel the visit, saying the community was “eagerly waiting” to see him at the shrine.
The Press Trust of India quoted SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar as saying that, with the exception of a military helmet, any head covering whatsoever would be acceptable.
The Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy said it was disappointed that the planned visit to the temple had reportedly been abandoned.
“The Obama administration has an abysmal record on international religious freedom issues,” the institute’s founder and chairman of the board, Joseph K. Grieboski, said in a statement.
“This could have been a unique and historic opportunity for the president to stand in the holiest shrine of an often-discriminated religious minority and to speak for the rights of all minorities around the globe.”
President Obama to visit mosque in Indonesia
President Barack Obama will visit one of the world’s largest mosques when he makes good on a long-delayed promise to visit Indonesia, the island nation where he lived briefly as a child.
The president will visit Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta — the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and the third largest Muslim house of worship in the world — during his swing through the country Nov. 9-10. Islam is the dominant religion in populous Indonesia, making it the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
White House national security aide Ben Rhodes said the visit is standard protocol for Obama, who visited the famed Blue Mosque while on a visit to Turkey shortly after his inauguration. “When he visited Muslim-majority countries as president, he has often visited the most prominent mosques,” Rhodes said.
The president’s high-profile visit, however, could stoke the heated confrontation over the Park51 Project, an Islamic cultural center and mosque planned for a site just north of where the World Trade Center towers fell in Manhattan on Sept. 11. In August, Obama roiled the simmering debate when he declared that Muslims have a legal right to build the cultural center — a statement which angered opponents who saw the center as an affront to victims and rescue workers who died on Sept. 11 — but he later said he didn’t think building the cultural center was a good idea.
Rhodes cautioned against linking Obama’s statement about the Park51 Project and his visit to the Jakarta mosque.
“I would not conflate the two,” he said. “When we planned to go to Indonesia in March, we planned to go to this same mosque.”
Obama had called off his first visit to Indonesia to focus on passing the stalled health care bill, and he canceled a rescheduled visit in the aftermath of the BP-Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill Gulf of Mexico in April.
"The president is very much looking forward to this opportunity," Rhodes said.
After a tour through India, the Indonesia leg of the president’s trip to Asia will kick off on Nov. 9, when Obama meets with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta. An official state dinner will follow that night.
The next day, the president will celebrate “Hero’s Day,” an Indonesian holiday. It commemorates the Battle of Surabaya, in which Indonesian soldiers defeated British and Dutch troops to win the nation’s independence in 1945. The president will lay a wreath at a cemetery and then visit the Istiqlal Mosque, followed by a speech in a yet-to-be-determined venue.
Rhodes said Obama will discuss the “close ties” of the two countries, as well as American outreach to the Muslim world and Indonesia’s success as a democracy. He’ll also touch on his own childhood in Indonesia.
It’ll be a big crowd, as Obama is “very popular” because of his biography and policies, Rhodes said.
“He wanted to have the opportunity to reach more Indonesian people,” he said. And it’ll be “a bit of a check-in” with the Muslim world after the president’s much-lauded speech at Cairo University in June 2009.
and, of course, The White House is denying the headdress is the reason:
White House denies rumors about Obama and Sikh temple
Oct 28, 2010 by Adelle M. Banks
(RNS) The White House has denied reports that President Obama will avoid a Sikh shrine while visiting India next week because the required head covering might have fanned false rumors about his faith.
"The decision we made was driven by ... the interests of time, how to best advance our common interests with India in these three days," said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser on Wednesday (Oct. 27).
Sikh leaders had hoped the president would visit the temple, which they consider their holiest site. Obama has been dogged by persistent -- and false -- rumors that he is not Christian, but Muslim.
Rhodes, who briefed reporters on the trip that begins Nov. 5, said the president is not able to go everywhere the administration considers for an overseas trip.
Obama will visit a museum dedicated to nonviolence advocate Mahatma Gandhi, as well as Gandhi's grave. He also will celebrate the Hindu holiday of Diwali with students at a school in Mumbai...
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