US Army eases norms for religious minorities, allows turban, beards

Washington, DC, United StatesUpdated: Jan 06, 2017, 05:42 AM IST

File photo.  Photograph:(Reuters)

The US Army has taken steps to ease approvals for members from religious minorities like Muslims, Sikhs to wear beards, turbans and head scarfs.

Army Secretary Eric Fanning revised the uniform policy for people seeking religious accommodations to wear beards, turbans and head scarfs.

The new rules also enable brigade-level commanders to approve the religious accommodations, an authority that previously rested with the Army secretary. 

Denial of a religious accommodation may be appealed as high as the Army secretary.

An approved religious accommodation will continue throughout the soldier's career and may not be revoked or modified without approval of the Army secretary. 

The accommodation will not affect job specialties or duty locations, except in a few limited cases.

"Our goal is to balance soldier readiness and safety with the accommodation of our soldiers' faith practices, and this latest directive allows us to do that," Lieutenant Colonel Randy Taylor said in a statement. 

The new rules were welcomed by the Sikh Coalition.