Hold onto your, er, hats.
Talk that U.S. President Barack Obama has canceled a visit to The Golden Temple in Amritsar because of a dispute over headgear may be premature, the White House said on Wednesday.
“We pick sites on foreign trips based on what the president wants to accomplish,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters traveling on Air Force One. Not, presumably, the outfit he might have to wear at a given site.
Obama had been expected to visit the Golden Temple in northern India, a pilgrimage site for Sikhs, during his tour of the country next month. But Indian media reports said Obama’s handlers balked at the idea of the U.S. president wearing a headscarf or skullcap while touring the site.
Obama faces persistent talk among some members of the U.S. public that he is a Muslim and, the reports said, aides said pictures of him wearing such headgear could fuel such rumors.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a Sikh.
Gibbs said Obama’s final itinerary during his India trip had yet to be finalized, but he expected it would be in the course of the next week.