NEW YORK TIMES – Taking On Rules to Ease Sikhs’ Path to the Army

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The Sikhs of northwestern India have for centuries cherished their rich military history. Wearing long beards and turbans into combat, they have battled Mughals in Punjab, Afghans near the Khyber Pass and Germans in the bloody trenches of the Somme.

But when Maj. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi, an American Sikh raised in New Jersey, signed up for the United States Army, that tradition counted for nothing. Before sending him to officer basic training, the Army told him that he would have to give up the basic symbols of his religion: his beard, knee-length hair and turban.

In good Sikh tradition, he resisted. Armed with petitions and Congressional letters, he waged a two-year campaign that in 2009 resulted in the Army granting him a special exception for his unshorn hair, the first such accommodation to a policy established in the 1980s.

Since then, two other Sikhs have won accommodations from the Army. But many others have failed. And so now, as he prepares to leave active duty, Major Kalsi, who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, is waging a new campaign: to rescind those strict rules that he believes have blocked hundreds of Sikhs from joining the military.

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1 Comment

  1. Sandro Tartaglia

    Weinstein how do you dare to publicly flount your HIPOCRACY? You censor any wisp of Christian thought or expression as “anti-secular diatribe” and “Faith-based hate” and then you pander and cowtow to make sure that a DIFFERENT religion is honored and allowed to fully express their faith in a military setting. I am all for the sikhs serving while clad in turbans and beards. But you, sir, are exhibiting a patholoigical, rabid, fantasy-based bigotry, (yes, sir, look in the mirror and you will see a flaming, flaming Bigot!) You are an enemy of goodness and wholesomeness, and a crusader for the destruction of America’s only chance at returning to some degree of moral and ethical rebirth.

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