U.S. State Department Defends Jay Leno’s Controversial Sikh Golden Temple Joke
The United States State Department came to Jay Leno’s defense on Monday, after the late-night talk show host was criticized by NRIs and India’s Ambassador to the US for taking a joke involving the Sikh community too far. Victoria Nuland, a spokesperson for the State Dept., told reporters that the US has “absolute respect” for the people of India, Sikhs included, but Leno’s comments “are constitutionally protected in the United States under free speech”.
The controversy stemmed from Leno’s show dated Thursday, Jan. 19, in which he showed an image of Amritsar’s Golden Temple (the holiest shrine in the Sikh religion) and pretended it was GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s vacation home. Over the weekend, a Facebook page protesting the joke accumulated almost 3,000 members.
To this point, there has been no comment from Leno, The Tonight Show or NBC on the issue. In her statement, Nuland reminded the public that President Barack Obama was the first American president to honor the anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth, the founder of Sikhism and the first of 10 Sikh gurus.
Missed Leno’s controversial joke? Watch it below and tell us if you find it offensive in the comments section.
Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of Divanee.com.