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Sikh army captain now allowed to keep turban and beard on duty

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Captain Simratpal Singh will no longer have to shave his beard and cut his hair Image source: nbcnews.com

A Sikh army captain who sued the U.S. military for discrimination in March has won the right to continue serving on active duty while upholding his religiously mandated turban and beard.

The U.S. Army released its decision on Thursday to grant Captain Simratpal Singh “religious accommodation” to the rules against facial hair and headwear, adding that “the Army intends to gather information to develop uniform standards for religious accommodations.”

“My military service continues to fulfill a lifelong dream,” Singh, a West Point graduate who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, said in a press release. “My faith, like many of the soldiers I work with, is an integral part of who I am. I am thankful that I no longer have to make the choice between faith and service to our nation.”

After years of cutting his hair and shaving his face, Singh was finally granted a temporary accommodation in December. Assistant Army Secretary Debra Wada ordered tests in March to determine whether Singh could safely wear a helmet and gas mask if he had a turban, uncut hair and a beard.

Thursday’s decision by the Army states that Singh will not have to reapply for accommodation in the future.

“In a political context where minorities are being marginalized and attacked routinely, it is critical that our nation’s largest institutions and employers — like the U.S. military — show the country that America embraces diversity,” Simran Jeet Singh, the Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition, told The Huffington Post.

He added, though, that this decision is just one step toward ending the discriminatory policies regarding article of faith for service members.

In 2014, the U.S. military began taking steps to give individual troops greater freedom to wear turbans, head scarfs, yarmulkes and other religious clothing with their uniforms. A spokesman for the Sikh Coalition noted at the time that the religious accommodation would have to be approved each time a service member changed assignments and would default to the discretion of their commanders.

Just two day’s before the Army released its decision on Singh’s case, three other Sikh soldiers filed a lawsuit seeking similar accommodations from the Army. With Singh’s victory and the Army’s promise to “develop uniform standards,” there may be hope for others in a similar predicament.

Credits: Huffington post

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Sikhs In U.S. To Donate Funds, Food To Unpaid TSA Workers

Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes. 

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Photo: metro.co.uk

Two Sikh communities in the US state of Indiana will donate funds and food to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers, as they remain unpaid due to the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The Sikh community of Fishers, Indiana, and Gurinder Singh Khalsa of SikhsPAC, a national Sikh political action committee, are coordinating with Mario Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, and Aaron Batt, TSA Federal Security Director, to support TSA agents, who are impacted by the shutdown, the American Bazaar news portal reported on Thursday.

“The community has come forward and is keen to support the workers who are undergoing the crisis of missing their paychecks,” Khalsa told the portal.

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Sikhs in US to donate funds, food to unpaid federal workers,representational image

He said that $5,000 in gift/grocery cards and more than $5,000 worth of hot food will be delivered to the TSA agents at the Indianapolis Airport on January 28.

Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes.

“We are looking at the places that can offer us good discounts so that we can deliver maximum stuff to workers affected,” he said.

TSA official Batt said the communities’ efforts were “overwhelming and amazing”.

To ensure that the community is able to offer helping hands to federal workers until the shutdown ends, the Sikhs in Fishers have vowed to encourage more Sikh temples and faith-based organisations in the state to come forward in assisting in the coming weeks if needed.

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Leading the community efforts, Khalsa is currently working with several local grocery stores that are eager to offer foodstuff at discounted prizes.  ( IANS)

“Our community kitchen will continue serving every Sunday and we will deliver hot food weekly to our TSA public servants on a weekly basis until the shutdown is lifted,” Khalsa said.

TSA falls under the Department of Homeland Security and has about 60,000 employees.

Its workers are one of the lowest paid employees and have been working without pay since the shutdown began on December 22.

Also Read: Are Indian Scientists’ Minds Cluttered With Prejudices?

TSA also has a much larger minority concentration of employees with about 22.9 per cent of them being African American employees, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

The partial government shutdown continues as President Donald Trump demands $5.7 billion for a wall along the US-Mexico border and Democratic lawmakers decline to approve it.

Roughly 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay since then. (IANS)