The dress code policy of the US Air Force has been updated.
The update according to CNN “outlines a clear approval process for Sikhs and Muslims who want to serve while wearing their articles of faith.”
Released February 7, the dress code update permits Muslim women to wear hijabs and Sikh airmen to wear turbans.
It also permits them to “request for waivers” to keep beards as long as it is “neat and conservative, and presents a professional appearance.”
Airforce Magazine explained that a commander under the new policy has up to 30 days to approve the request for a waiver, stating that “the accommodation will generally follow the airman through his or her career.”
If the request of the waiver “furthers a compelling government interest,” such a request is allowed to be denied by the Air Force.
Relevant groups such as Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Council on American – Islamic Relation (CAIR) and others shared their support for the new policy.
CAIR, on February 12, said the policy is a “step towards religious accommodation and inclusion for military personnel of all faiths.”
In a release, Giselle Klapper, a Sikh Coalition staff attorney said that “no Sikh American should have to choose between their religious beliefs and their career ambitions.”
“Sikhs have served honorably and capably in the US Armed Forces and other militaries around the world, and while we are eager for a blanket proclamation that all observant Sikh American can serve in any branch of the military without seeking accommodations, this policy clarification is a great step forward towards ensuring equality of opportunity and religious freedom in the Air Force,” he added.