SAN FRANCISCO, California—News of the young Sikh couple who were thrown out of an AMC Theater in Emeryville, Calif. on June 22 for possessing a kirpan, a religious article of faith, has spread around the globe from San Francisco to Malaysia.
The San Francisco-based law firm Dhillon & Smith LLP and international advocacy group UNITED SIKHS are representing Manjot Singh and Ikman Kaur.
“It is outrageous that this couple was singled out by the Emeryville AMC staff simply for being Sikh,” said attorney Harmeet Dhillon, whose practice includes civil rights claims involving religious liberty. “Singh’s kirpan, which is the size of a pocket knife and has the sharpness of a butter-knife, was worn underneath his shirt, as he usually wears it. The AMC theater manager asked him if he had one with him because of his religious appearance as a turban-wearing, bearded Sikh not because they saw the kirpan, which is not a ‘weapon’. I doubt anyone, of any religion would like to be singled out in such an embarrassing fashion.”
Theater staff admitted that they did not question or search most theater goers, and later falsely claimed that Singh was “brandishing” his kirpan. The couple’s attorneys have asked the theater to secure surveillance video to substantiate their outrageous claim and to provide further evidence of how the couple were singled out because of their appearance.
The couple hopes that AMC Theaters will change its policy to not discriminate against Sikh patrons, and they will offer a formal apology. They are presently exploring their legal options, but hope to avoid litigation with the theater chain. Their goal, they say, is to educate and help avoid such unfortunate acts of discrimination in the future.