• Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

A US court has ordered the Marine Corps to admit Sikh recruits with beards and turbans.

ByJosh Taylor

Dec 24, 2022

On Friday, a US federal appeals court upholding Sikh rights decided that the US Marine Corps must allow Sikh recruits to keep religious beards and wear turbans while serving the country, citing the present policy as a breach of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The court’s three-judge panel stated that the Marine Corps could never adequately explain why it couldn’t give similar religious accommodations to other military services such as the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
If the necessity to build unit cohesiveness during recruit training may accept some external indicia of uniqueness, then the boundary drawn cannot be based on whether those indicia are popular in society or instead reflect the religion practise of a minority,” the court wrote in its conclusion.
Notably, the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard fulfil Sikh candidates’ religious needs.
The case included three Sikh males, Aekash Singh, Jaskirat Singh, and Milaap Singh Chahal, who passed examinations to enrol in the US Marine Corps last year.
However, since then, the three have been obliged to battle the claims since the Marines say that recruits need to be stripped of their ‘individuality’. The Marines also contend that the restrictions are important to preserve uniformity in the interests of national security.
In response, the court stated that the US Marine Corps is part of the Navy and that commanders are trained at the Naval Academy. The Academy allows for beards and the wearing of religious objects.
It went on to say that even the US Marines permitted males with certain skin issues not to shave and that female recruits kept their hairstyles.
After the verdict, plaintiffs’ attorney Eric Baxter tweeted, “Today’s judgement is a big victory for these Sikh recruits, who may now continue basic training without having to compromise their rights.”
“It is also a win for our country, because three strong and determined individuals will soon serve our country valiantly in the Marine Corps.”
Those who practise Sikhism, particularly men, are not permitted to cut their hair or trim their beards while wearing a turban. They must also wear a kanga (wooden comb), kirpan (small sword), kara (steel bracelet), and a white cotton undergarment (kachera).
Sikhs from all around the world have served in the military in various capacities. Their valour and heroism have been extensively chronicled, and they have behaved brilliantly as peers, even while carrying religious items.

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