Sikhs challenge US Army's ban on turbans, beards

June 15, 2009 07:29

Military service is in Capt. Kamaljit Singh Kalsi's blood. His father and grandfather were part of India's Air Force. His great-grandfather served in the British Indian army. So when US Army recruiters talked to him during his first year of medical school, he readily signed up. But his plans to go on active duty in July are now on hold. An Army policy from the 1980s that regulates the wearing of religious items would mean he would need to shave his beard and remove the turban he wears in accordance with his religious precepts. Kalsi and another Sikh man with the same concerns, Second Lt. Tejdeep Singh Rattan, are the centerpieces of an advocacy campaign launched by the Sikh Coalition as it tries to persuade the Army to let them serve without sacrificing their articles of faith. "I'm an American, there's no reason why I can't serve," Kalsi, 32, said.

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