Sikh-Americans contributed greatly to US

Washington: The Obama Administration Sunday praised the contribution of Sikh-Americans to the United States, as it termed the controversial remarks of a popular television host on the Golden Temple as "satirical" in nature.

"I think that 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 appeared to be satirical in nature," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters.

"But from a US official government perspective, we have absolute respect for all the people of India, including Sikhs here, there," she said. President Barack Obama was the first president ever to host a celebration in honor of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, who`s the first Sikh guru, for example, she said.

"You know, our view is obviously that Sikh Americans have contributed greatly to the United States," Nuland said. Nuland was responding to question on the recent remarks on the Golden Temple by Jay Leno, the host of the popular `The Tonight Show` on NBC channel.

In the show, telecast on January 19, Leno showing a picture of the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine, had termed it as a possible summer home of Mitt Romney, a leading Republican presidential candidate.

The comment has resulted in a outrage in the small but strong Sikh community here. They have launched an online petition against Leno and have started a Facebook page to express their anger against the television host.

"Golden temple is Sikh community`s most sacred place. Even our Prime Minister went there for praying in the New Year. I believe the person who has shown is not that ignorant.

The American Government should also look at this kind of thing," visiting NRI Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said.