Published On : Fri, Jun 7th, 2019

Sikh-American airman allowed by US Air Force to keep turban, beard on active duty

Finally, some good news from a country that’s being fractured by divisiveness. (Not India, it’s the US, this time.)

A Sikh airman has been allowed by the United States Air Force to serve with a beard, turban and unshorn hair, making him the first active-duty airman to be granted such a religious accommodation.

Airman Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa, who joined the Air Force in 2017, was unable to follow the practice due to the military branch’s grooming and dress codes.

The Air Force granted him an accommodation after Bajwa gained representation from the Sikh American Veterans Alliance, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NBC news reported. Bajwa, a crew chief at McChord Air Force Base, Washington, is now the first active airman who has been authorised to adhere to Sikh religious grooming and dress principles while serving in the Air Force.

“I’m overjoyed that the Air Force has granted my religious accommodation,’ said Bajwa. “Today, I feel that my country has embraced my Sikh heritage, and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity,” he said. Bajwa says be initially asked if he could request a waiver during tech training a year ago in Charleston, South Carolina, and said he was never told “no” by leadership. “I’m extremely happy I can practice my faith and serve my country,” said Bajwa.