Mitt Romney made an unfortunate slip of the tongue during a fundraiser Tuesday, when he mistakenly said "sheik" instead of "Sikh" while commenting on the tragic shooting in Wisconsin.
According to a media pool report, the Republican presidential hopeful used the Arabic term, which typically refers to an elder or religious leader, to discuss Sikhism, a religion that originated in the Punjab region of South Asia.
"I was in Chicago earlier today," Romney said to about 280 supporters at a fundraiser in West Des Moines, Iowa. "We had a moment of silence in honor of the people who lost their lives at that sheik temple. 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."
When asked about the comments, Romney spokesman Rick Gorka insisted that the mix-up was a mispronunciation.
"He misspoke," Gorka said, according to the pool report. "He mispronounced similar sounding words. He was clearly referring to the tragedy in Wisconsin."
Earlier Tuesday, Romney offered his condolences to the victims of the tragic shooting that left six worshippers dead over the weekend at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc. The former governor said the suspected shooter, Wade Michael Page, was "motivated by hate," and called for prayers for the victims.
The Sikh community regularly bemoans how frequently its members are confused for Muslims in America.