The Department of Defense has announced that it has changed its regulations to allow service members to wear turbans, scarfs, or beards, so that they may display their religious beliefs after several Muslim service members launched formal complaints. These items will be still be banned if it is determined that they negatively effect military order, discipline, or readiness.
The order is not a general order that will apply to all service members. It will be allowed on a case by case basis and will only be denied if it is determined that the item interferes with the use of military equipment, poses a health or safety hazard, interferes with wearing a military gear, or prevents the completion of the ‘military mission.’
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has praised the new regulation. However, other groups are not happy. For example Sikh American organizations claim that the new allowances don’t do enough to accommodate Sikh soldiers. Jasjit Singh, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, told reporters:
“Unfortunately, this continues to make us have to choose between our faith and serving our country It has been a work in progress, but we were hoping they would go further.”
The new regulations will apply to facial hair, tattoos, grooming practices and even piercings that are religious in nature.