Obama gets cold feet on skull cap

Image conscious

Obama gets cold feet on skull cap

Obama’s advisers were not keen on the president wearing the traditional scarf during his visit to the Golden Temple, scheduled for November 7. They felt it would convey an image of him appearing to be a Muslim, something they wanted him to avoid.

As per the Sikh religious code of conduct, visitors to the Golden Temple are required to cover their head and walk bare-foot.  Right-wing critics in the US were quick to seize on those pictures from Somalia and tried to portray Obama, a Christian by faith but whose grandfather was a Muslim, to be a closet Muslim who was under attack by conservative America.

After Amritsar dropped off the schedule, there was a possibility of the Obamas going to Agra, home to the Taj Mahal. However, it is learnt that the Obamas were not very keen, specially as their daughters Malia and Sasha won’t be coming to India with them.

Thus, the US president’s visit will be confined to Mumbai and Delhi. He will land in Mumbai on November 5 and stay at the Taj Hotel, target of the 26/11 terror attack. He will address an Indo-US business delegation and will have other programmes on November 6.

Next day, Obama will leave for Delhi where he will take part in the functions organised by the US Embassy. Obama’s engagements will begin on November 8 with the ceremonial guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan followed by his address to the joint session of
Parliament. Afterwards, he will lead the delegation-level talks. Obama will attend a banquet hosted by the Prime Minister that evening following which he will leave for Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Sikh organisations have asked Obama not to cancel his visit. The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar, has said it would relax the code of conduct for non-Sikh visitors to the shrine.  “It is a matter of great pride for us that President Obama will visit the Golden Temple. We have absolutely no issues with the way he covers his head. He can cover his head with a cap or a cloth,” said Avtar Makkar, president of the SGPC.

The headgear norms had earlier been relaxed for foreign dignitaries like Queen Elizabeth.

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