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US military releases new instructions to Sikhs on religious garb

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Story Dated: Thursday, January 23, 2014 10:32 hrs UTC

Washington: In a major decision that might have a far reaching impact on Sikhs joining the US military, the Pentagon has issued new instructions relaxing norms to allow troops to wear jewellery and apparel to comply with their religious requirements.

However, given the new instructions still stresses on wearing protective equipment like helmets, the relaxations in the norms might still not be enough for letting the Sikhs community to join the American armed forces in large numbers, a long pending demand of the Sikh-American community.

"The new policy states that military departments will accommodate religious requests of service members unless a request would have an adverse effect on military readiness, mission accomplishment, unit cohesion and good order and discipline," Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nathan J Christensen said in a statement yesterday.

"All requests for accommodation of religious practices will be assessed on a case-by-case basis," he said. "Each request must be considered based on its unique facts, the nature of the requested religious accommodation, the effect of approval or denial on the service member's exercise of religion, and the effect of approval or denial on mission accomplishment, including unit cohesion," he said.

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