Sheikh temple? Romney confuses religion for Arab title


Mitt Romney speaks to supporters on Jan. 19, 2012 in Charleston, South Carolina.


Joe Raedie

Mitt Romney accidentally referred to the shooting that took place at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin as taking place at a "sheikh temple," confusing an Arab honorific title for the name of the religious group.

“We obviously have challenges around the country. I was in Chicago earlier today. We had a moment of silence in honor of the people who lost their lives at that sheik temple,” said Romney, speaking to a group of donors gathered at a fundraiser at a West Des Moines country club, ABC News reported.

“I noted that it was a tragedy for many, many reasons. Among them are the fact that people, the sheik people are among the most peaceable and loving individuals you can imagine, as is their faith. And of course, the person who carried out this heinous act was a person motivated by racial hatred and religious intolerance. It’s really, really a tragedy,” he said.

The Sikh have been targets of hate crimes because of the confusion surrounding their religion. Many believe that they are Muslim.

"People don't understand who we are. It's a misidentity. They think we're Muslim or the Taliban. We're not," said Balwinder Sidhu, 57, a retired taxi driver to AFP.

"It has a lot to do with ignorance. Basically people say because there are turbans it must be Islamic," his daughter added. "But all it takes is two seconds on the Internet."

A Romney spokesman told ABC News that Romney simply “misspoke."

“He mispronounced similar sounding words,” said campaign spokesman Rick Gorka. “He was clearly referring to the tragedy in Wisconsin, you heard him talk about it earlier today in Chicago.” Gorka added that it was the end of the day and that Romney had been campaigning since 7 a.m. 

Good news is that Romney's linguistic error didn't cost him much. According to the New Statesman, Romney raised $1.8m dollars in the "most successful presidential fundraiser we have ever had in the history of the state of Iowa."

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