Sikh Americans have urged President Barack Obama to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar as planned and also appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to persuade him to do so.

A community leader who was in the forefront of the move to urge Mr. Obama to visit the Golden Temple, on Friday welcomed a White House statement that Mr. Obama’s schedule for the India visit in November is not “finalised”.

“This is a welcome news and we certainly hope that this visit takes place as planned,” said Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), who met with senior staff members at the White House hours before Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ statement.

The Sikh community was also “concerned about this notion that President Obama is trying to avoid the trip to the temple because he does not want to be seen as Muslim”, he said.

“It seems pretty nonsensical and it is hurtful to the Sikh community,” Rajwant Singh said. “This does nothing but emphasise the negative stereotype which Sikhs have been working hard to fight since 9/11. In addition, it is also demeaning to the Muslims.”

“It seems pretty clear that Presidential aides handling Mr. Obama’s trip to India have certainly handled it poorly and have created more headaches for the administration which is already distracted with the critical mid term elections,” he said.

“This is the last thing President Obama needed, to deal with an issue of him trying to avoid looking like a Muslim. We are proud of our president and he is certainly not what is being portrayed. It is important that the president visits the holy shrine to give the message of interfaith understanding and peace,” he said.

Noting the White House statement that decisions about where to go are made in consultation with the host country, Mr. Rajwant Singh also appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “to use his good offices to advise rightly to his friend Barack Obama”.

Mr. Rajwant Singh also delivered a letter from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president to three senior aides of Mr. Obama urging the President to visit the Golden Temple and saying the SGPC is ready to welcome him on behalf of the entire Sikh community.

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