The Washington Post

Mitt Romney joke on Jay Leno angers Indian Sikhs

Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” meant to poke fun at Mitt Romney’s tax issues but ended up sparking an international diplomatic crisis. A joke in Jay Leno’s opening monologue last Thursday angered Indian Sikhs when a video montage replaced Mitt Romney’s summer home with the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the most valuable shrine in the Sikh religion.

Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Golden Temple. (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)

The Golden Temple, also called the Sri Darbar Sahib, houses the holy scripture of the Sikh religion and is the foremost pilgrimmage spot for Sikhs. It was also the location of a deadly stand-off between Sikhs and the Indian military in 1984.

The Press Trust of India reports that the Indian Embassy will contact the U.S. State Department over the joke.

“This is not acceptable to us and we take a very strong objection for such a display,” Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said to the BBC.

An online petition started by U.S. Sikhs said that the First Amendment does not protect Leno’s remarks as they spread hate. It also accuses Leno of a history of derogatory comments about the Sikh religion.

However, not everyone in India agrees with the outrage. Indian media criticized the Jay Leno kerfuffle on Twitter. “Read about Jay Leno joke. Next mass movement should be over largescale disappearance of India’s sense of humour,” Abhijit Majumder, an editor at the Hindustan Times, wrote.

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