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Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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March 08, 2023

     A federal appeals court has ruled that members of the Sikh faith can maintain their beards and serve in the Marine Corps, capping a two-year legal battle.  The Marine Corps has gone woke.

     The lawsuit was brought by Sikh Marine Corps recruits Jaskirat Singh, Aekash Singh and Milaap Singh Chahal, and Marine Capt. Sukhbir Singh Toor.  Mr. Chahal and Jaskirat Singh will be allowed to immediately proceed to Marine training, while the appeals panel ordered a district court to rehear the Aekash Singh case because he wants to attend Officer Candidate School.  The Sikh Coalition said the ruling should have “a positive effect” on cases such as the one brought by Capt. Toor, who is appealing his limited accommodation as an active-duty officer.

     Wearing uncut hair and beards are two of the ritual requirements of Sikhism, a religion with approximately 30 million adherents worldwide. Some 700,000 Americans are followers, and most Sikh boys and men contain their hair in Turbans.  Sikhs who enlist in the Army, Navy and Air Force have received religious exemptions for beards, long hair and turbans, but the Marine Corps has resisted, saying Sikh recruits could have beards and long hair only after completing basic training, also known as “boot camp.”

     The Sikhs said a requirement to cut their hair and remove their beards in basic training would cause them to violate deeply held religious beliefs and infringe on their right to the free exercise of their religion.  

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