Court: Marine Sikh Recruits Need Not Shave for Boot Camp

Federal appeals court grants the exemption
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2022 11:36 AM CST
Court: Marine Sikh Recruits Need Not Shave for Boot Camp
The Marine Corps flag.   (Getty/Oleksii Liskonii)

A federal court ruling will result in a rare sight at Marine boot camp: two bearded recruits. The District of Columbia's federal appeals court has ruled that the pair of Sikh men shouldn't be forced to shave off the beards they keep for religious reasons, reports NPR. Plaintiffs Milaap Singh Chahal and Jaskirat Singh are expected to ship off to camp soon, per the Marine Corps Times. While the military branch has granted exemptions for Sikh men to wear beards after boot camp—though not in combat—the Marines have balked about allowing them during basic training itself.

"Our clients have lived in limbo for more than two years, waiting for any satisfactory explanation of why they must sacrifice their faith to serve our country," said Amrith Kaur Aakre, legal director of the Sikh Coalition, per the New York Times. Now that limbo is over. The Times frames the military's dilemma like so: It's attempting to preserve "its traditions while also attracting personnel in an increasingly diverse nation." The same court returned the case of a third Sikh, who's applying to officer school, to a lower court. (Read more Marines stories.)

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