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January 24, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

Vayalar Ravi

Among the deeply devout, humor and religion do not intermix. (About the only religious figure depicted as laughing or even smiling in religious iconography is Buddha.) Jay Leno is the latest to learn that lesson as the government of India formally lodged a complaint about a gag that was included in his Tonight show monologue last week. As reported by the Indian news channel NDTV, Leno during his monologue showed the residences of the current crop of GOP candidates. But when it came to Romney, he displayed an image of India’s lavish Darbar Sahib or Golden Temple. In a news clip broadcast by NDTV, Overseas Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said, “I wish this kind of thing is not shown by any media in the U.S. … Freedom does not mean hurt the sentiments of others.” He called the Golden Temple the “Sikh community’s most sacred place. Even our Prime Minister went there for praing in the New Year. I believe that the person who has shown [the temple] is not that ignorant. The American government should also look at this kind of thing.” NDTV said that Leno’s comment has sparked an online petition campaign by the “small but strong” Sikh community in the U.S. Later, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said that the U.S. has “absolute respect for all the people of India, including Sikhs,” then added, “”I think that Mr. Leno would be appreciative … if we make the point that his comments are constitutionally protected in the United States under free speech, and frankly, they appear to be satirical in nature.”