Manjot Singh, while on a night out with his wife to watch ‘Man of Steel’ at AMC cinemas in Emeryville, CA, went to buy his wife a beverage. After waiting in line for ten minutes, buying the soda, and chatting with the concession employee, he was approached by several AMC staff. They asked him if he was “carrying a weapon” because he was a Sikh and the staff purported to “know about Sikhs.” When Singh responded that he was carrying a modest kirpan, a small spiritual sword that baptized Sikhs are required to wear just as many Christians wear a crucifix, the theater manager ordered him to remove it or leave.
We strongly believe Manjot was singled out due to his appearance, to support this please SIGN the Petition!
SAN FRANSISCO, California—A Sikh couple who were singled out for questioning and asked to leave an Emeryville, CA. AMC movie theater on June 22, for wearing their Kirpans, religious articles of faith worn by Amritdhari (initiated) Sikhs, have retained legal counsel. A demand has been made to the theater company to preserve and turn over the surveillance video from the incident, apologize to the couple and change its discriminatory policies targeting Sikhs.
Manjot Singh approached UNITED SIKHS for legal help and the couple is being represented by Manmeet Singh, Staff Attorney of UNITED SIKHS and Attorney Harmeet Kaur Dhillon of San Francisco-based Dhillon & Smith LLP.
“Sikhs are unfortunately often the target of ignorance and discrimination in the United States due to their unique appearance. But just like all other American citizens, Manjot Singh has the right to be treated with dignity and respect in all public accommodations,” said Manmeet Singh. “What happened to this couple at the AMC Theater in Emeryville – singling them out because of Manjot’s appearance – was inexcusable, and we want to make sure that this never happens again to another Sikh patron of the AMC chain.”
On behalf of their clients, the attorneys have disputed claims made by the theater chain in recent news stories carried by Huffington Post, Daily Mail and local ABC News.
“AMC has made a statement claiming that Singh was asked to leave after brandishing his kirpan in the lobby, which is absurd,” Dhillon said. “Manjot Singh and a vast majority of Sikhs wear their kirpan underneath their clothes, and the staff never saw Singh’s kirpan. He was singled out by the staff merely because of his appearance as a turban-wearing, bearded Sikh who apparently made the theater manager uncomfortable.”
The attorneys said that theater management admitted to the couple that they do not screen most patrons or make any attempt to systematically enforce their supposed policy.
Discriminatory application of a policy is illegal under state and federal law.
Manjot Singh said that he is not pursuing his rights for any financial benefit and that he is simply looking for an apology and a changed AMC policy regarding equal treatment of all patrons consistent with their civil rights. “My wife and I were publicly shamed by a racist and discriminatory act,” Singh said. “We were publicly humiliated and made to look like terrorists while going about our business like other Americans and trying to enjoy an evening out. We just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to other Sikhs.”
The couple was forced to leave the theater, after over ten humiliating minutes of being made to stand in the lobby and after the manager went out of his way to enter the theater, find Ms. Kaur and bring her out, saying “your husband is waiting for you.” At no time did Manjot Singh ever display his kirpan, sheathed or unsheathed.
UNITED SIKHS encourages you to read and share our Know Your Rights Manual. By doing so, you will be creating awareness and helping protect the civil and human rights of all Sikhs. Fighting for religious accommodation is a daunting task because of the vagaries of national and international laws, butUNITED SIKHS will continue, nation by nation, to promote and protect Sikh articles of faith.
We request you to donate generously so that we are well equipped to carry on our efforts, and to take on more challenges.You may donate online or in person to a UNITED SIKHS chapter near you. For details of our chapters, please visit our contact page.
You may read a previous report on UNITED SIKHS’ advocacy for the Sikh community here.