A US court has ordered the Marine Corps (USMC) to allow Sikh recruits to grow beards and wear turbans.
According to news agency AFP, the court issued the order on Friday, rejecting a claim by an elite unit of the US Navy that allowing religious exemptions would undermine harmony.
It should be noted that the US Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guards and many foreign forces already follow the religious requirements of Sikhism.
Sikhism, a faith that emerged in South Asia five centuries ago, prohibits men from cutting their hair or beards and mandates the wearing of a turban.
But the U.S. Marine Corps denied three Sikhs who took the recruitment test last year to undergo 13 weeks of basic training and a waiver from regulations on growing beards during potential combat situations.
The Marine Corps said the three men could keep their beards and turbans without training.
The Marine Corps leadership’s argument in this regard was that the “psychological transformation” required them to “separate their individuality” from recruits in order to instill in them a sense of collective sacrifice.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington disagreed with the Marine Corps’ argument, saying the Marines had not presented an argument as to whether the beards and turbans interfered with protective equipment or physical training.
The court said that the Marines exempted men from shaving their beards under certain circumstances and allowed women to keep their hairstyles and have extensive tattoos (‘which are a fine expression of individual identity’). Is.
Judge Pedresia Millet wrote in his judgment that “despite the need to harmonize individuals of different backgrounds during training, some outward signs of individuality may be considered.”
In its judgment, the court also pointed out that the beard regulations date back to 1976. Hairy Marines have not been a problem from the Revolutionary War era to modern times.
The court issued a preliminary injunction allowing the two recruits, Malap Singh Chahal and Jaskrit Singh, to begin training as per the requirements of their faith while a district court conducts a thorough examination of the case.
Giselle Clapper, a senior staff attorney at the Sikh Coalition advocacy group, hailed the decision, saying it means “honest Sikhs who are called to serve our country can now do so in the U.S. Marine Corps.” are.’