New US military guidelines have opened the way for service members to wear religious clothing such as turbans or skullcaps while on duty, the Department of Defense has announced.
The guidelines, published on Wednesday, also allow for facial hair, body art and other expressions of religious belief. It is not a blanket permission, however; requests for dispensation from stated uniform policy are to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
The military counts thousands of Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Wiccans and members of other religious groups among its ranks. The groups have protested against the exclusion of religious apparel, saying it forces them to choose between their religious beliefs and a desire to serve.
To be approved, changes in apparel or presentation must not impair the operation of weapons, pose a health or safety hazard or interfere with other military equipment such as helmets, flak jackets or wetsuits, according to the guidelines.
Read more: theguardian.com