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USA Manjot Singh, Observant Sikh, Ejected From Movie Theater For Wearing Ceremonial Religious Sword

spnadmin

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Manjot Singh, Observant Sikh, Ejected From Movie Theater For Wearing Ceremonial Religious Sword

Aaron Sankin

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/27/manjot-singh_n_3510672.html

With two young kids at home, it isn't often that Manjot Singh and his wife get a night to themselves. When an evening opened up earlier this month, the couple took the opportunity to take in a showing of Man of Steel at an AMC movie theater in the San Francisco suburb of Emeryville.

However, instead of comic book escapism, Singh's evening was ruined by what he called a "racist and discriminatory act."

Singh and his wife bought their tickets, found their seats and, before the film started, Singh got up to get something to drink from the concession stand. By the time Singh had made his purchase and started on his way back to the theater, he was stopped by theater security guards who insisted that he was in violation of AMC's zero-tolerance policy on weapons.

At issue was Singh's kirpan, a ceremonial sword carried by many baptized Sikhs as an article of faith. For devout Sikhs like Singh, the kirpan is a sacred symbol of one's duty to always stand against injustice that should be worn at all times. As Singh insisted to theater security, he felt no more comfortable removing the sword than he would have felt taking off an arm or leg.

Singh's wife, who had by this time come out from the theater, was also carrying her kirpan and was similarly asked to leave. While the couple were given full refunds, the humiliation they felt still stings.

"People were staring at us, looking at us like we were terrorists," he recalled.

AMC issued a statement in response:

Our 'no weapons' policy prohibits guests from carrying weapons of any kind into our theaters. This national policy is for the safety and security of our guests and staff. The person in question was approached when our security team noticed the guest was wearing an approximately 5-1/2 inch unsheathed knife, in clear violation of our rules. We stand by our policy, as this matter is about the weapon alone and not at all about religious freedoms. The safety and security of all our guests and associates is our duty and responsibility, and we take it very seriously.

Singh said this incident was not the first time he had been inconvenienced by his refusal to take off his kirpan. He has been denied entry to court houses, barred from serving on juries and stopped at post offices. He takes it off to ride on airplanes, temporarily replacing it with a small representation, but says it is rarely an issue in his daily routine. He said he has taken it everywhere from his job to college classrooms to amusement parks without incident.

Sikh civil rights advocacy group United Sikhs, which is representing Singh, is hosting a petition on its website pushing AMC to abandon its anti-kirpan policy.

"This continuous attack on religious freedom must be stopped," said United Sikhs Advocacy Director Manvinder Singh in a statement. He added that his organization is "prepared to take all necessary measures to protect Mr. Singh's religious rights..[which are] guaranteed by the First Amendment."

The conflict between observant Sikhs unwilling to compromise on their religious beliefs and an American society increasingly conserved with security has increased in recent years.

However, Sikh groups recently reached a compromise with the Department of Homeland Security at airports by displaying a series of posters specifically aimed at guiding airport security through handling the inspection of kirpans.

The Times of India reports:

In the last two years, Sikhs have been arrested, threatened with arrest or harassed in disputes with guards over kirpan. The poster tells security workers how to navigate the situation: "Respectfully ask if a Sikh is carrying a kirpan. If so, request to inspect the kirpan," it reads.

"If a kirpan must be confiscated, explain the reason(s) and handle the kirpan with respect and care." For Sikh Americans, this is a huge and significant accomplishment," Manjit Singh, co-founder and chairman of Legal Fund, told Post. The poster also tells screeners to "show respect to all variations of faith."
 

spnadmin

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This is a key paragraph

Singh said this incident was not the first time he had been inconvenienced by his refusal to take off his kirpan. He has been denied entry to court houses, barred from serving on juries and stopped at post offices. He takes it off to ride on airplanes, temporarily replacing it with a small representation, but says it is rarely an issue in his daily routine. He said he has taken it everywhere from his job to college classrooms to amusement parks without incident.

In most if not all US governmental venues there are restrictions on carrying weapons of any kind. A kirpan is considered a dagger and therefore a weapon in the eyes of the law. Would a court consider a kirpan ban in a court or post office a case of treating Sikhs differently from other religious groups, and therefore, therefore, discriminating against Sikhs?

Have there been any court decisions about that?

Kirpans are permitted to be "carried open" on US Airlines and any airline landing in territorial US, according to the Transportation Safety Association - TSA. However there is length limit. Is a sword a kirpan? Seems the TSA thinks not.

Final question. Will AMC be able to defend its position successfully in a court of law? Can a privately owned industry enforce restrictions on bringing weapons onto their premises as a matter of corporate policy?

Just some thoughts in the background.
 
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Ishna

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What about

The person in question was approached when our security team noticed the guest was wearing an approximately 5-1/2 inch unsheathed knife, in clear violation of our rules.
Would it have been different if it was sheathed? Why wasn't it sheathed?
 

Harkiran Kaur

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What I find really funny is that most Americans would defend their rights to carry a concealed firearm (probably including those who made the rules for the theatres), but have issue with a 5.5" dagger which most of the kirpans I have seen are not even sharpened at all! In fact, I wonder how many people with concealed guns make it into their theatres in the run of a year...
 

Kanwaljit.Singh

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Jan 29, 2011
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What I find really funny is that most Americans would defend their rights to carry a concealed firearm (probably including those who made the rules for the theatres), but have issue with a 5.5" dagger which most of the kirpans I have seen are not even sharpened at all! In fact, I wonder how many people with concealed guns make it into their theatres in the run of a year...
Haha that makes a lot of sense but people will never think that way. I wonder how his Kirpan got unsheathed. If it was not blunt, it might have caused him more trouble for sure.
 

Tejwant Singh

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If we want to take Kripan in the public places where by law it can not be concealed as normally it is under the shirt, then we have to get in bed with the NRA to change some laws or do not take Kripan anywhere except to the Gurdwaras or other places where people know what it means,openly.

I used to carry my 3" Kripan behind my belt buckle all the times. I used to travel by plane, go to Parents' Teachers' meetings and other public places in the same way. In other words, it was out and front. The reason was to create curiosity in people for them to ask about it and then I could start a conversation about Sikhi which happened quite often.

In Fact, once I was caught jay walking in Los Angeles by two cops on the beat, a lady and a gentleman. They asked me to raise my hands when they saw the Kripan. I told them with a straight face, that if they smoked then they could not touch it unless they washed their hands. That seemed to have had broken the ice. The lady officer smiled and said she did not smoke. She took it out of the sheath and we talked about Sikhi for about 15 mins. After the chit chat,they let me go without giving me a $75.00 ticket.

Then 9-11 happened and all changed which is OK because the actual meaning of Kakaars in my view is that their importance should be etched in our hearts so we can practice them during our waking hours by making their meaningfulness as our second nature. Otherwise, they become nothing but a fake regalia, a show off, a religious paraphernalia which demeans its truly wonderful significance.

Now, I wear my Kripan, which is 5 inches of very sharp blade made by the Swiss Army Knife company on my side because its has a loop for the belt. It is fully exposed with a sheath and I wear it to the Gurdwaras, to the Interfaith meetings and forums and to the Sikhs' homes. I have very rarely used gatras, only during the weddings where I wear Shirwani or something like that.

I do not wear it while going to the movies, restaurants or any other public places and I have no qualms about it because my duty as a Sikh is to create harmony and understanding among humankind through education and not to create chaos because of the ignorance of others. This kind of "right" I reject vehemently.

Tejwant Singh
 
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spnadmin

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San Francisco Sikh Couple to sue AMC Theatres after being ejected for wearing a Kirpan
By Parmjit Singh

http://www.sikhsiyasat.net/2013/07/02/san-francisco-sikh-couple-to-sue-amc-theatres-after-being-ejected-for-wearing-a-kirpan/

San Francisco (July 02, 2013): According to a news reported by IBTimes.co.uk: a Sikh couple from San Francisco are planning to sue AMC Theatres after staff at the cinema told Manjot Singh to leave because he was wearing a Sikh Kirpan, one of the necessary articles of faith.

Manjot Singh and his wife were at the cinema watching Man of Steel. He had gone to the foyer to buy his wife a drink when he was approached by several members of staff who asked if he was carrying a weapon because one of them “knew about Sikhs”.

He responded by saying he had a modest kirpan, that Sikhs are required to carry as part of their religion. Staff members said he must remove the knife or leave.

Following the incident, AMC made a statement saying the kirpan was on show and that this violated its no weapons policy. Singh says he was wearing the religious item beneath his clothing.

Manjot Singh’s wife was also wearing a kirpan so after they fetched her from the screen, she was also asked to leave.

According to IBTimes.co.uk the Singh couple are now taking legal action in pursuit of an apology, demanding that the company change its policies targeting Sikhs and turn over the surveillance footage to show what happened at the cinema.

They are being represented by Manmeet Singh, staff attorney of United Sikhs, and Harmeet Kaur Dhillon, from the San Francisco-based law firm Dhillon & Smith LLP.

“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 theatre manager uncomfortable”, Harmeet Kaur Dhillon reportedly said.

“What happened to this couple at the AMC Theatre 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”, the United Sikhs lawyer added.

Admin note: Just to repeat what Tejwant Singh said above. In states of the US where it is allowed to carry a knife or kirpan, it must be carried in the open, unsheathed. Seems contrary to require this, but it is the law. Blades may not be carried concealed.
 

seeker3k

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What is the difference between sword and ceremonial sword. Are they not same?
Paper wrote 5.5" sword because we demand that it is sword (kirpan).
Were there sign posted at the entry of that sword or any weapon is not allowed?

I think the law should be obeyed. If there is issue then take it up with the management.
That is the civilized way to deal with these kind of issues.
 

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