Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Sikh Soldier's Right to Wear Turban-A Legal Battle?

Academic journal article International Journal of Humanities and Peace

Sikh Soldier's Right to Wear Turban-A Legal Battle?

Article excerpt

Rep. Edolphus Town, New York Democrat, has taken up the cause of a Sikh-American soldier of the United State Army Reserve, who has allegedly been denied the right to wear a turban while on duty. Towns took to the House floor to tell lawmaker that Trilok Singh Puniani,-who, as a Sihk, is required to wear his turban as a symbol of his religion since "it is one of the five symbols of Sikhism;-was being denied the right." The lawmaker said that Puniani, who is from Fresno, California, joined the Army Reserve in 1999, and noted that "there had been an exemption granted that permitted the wearing of a turban while in uniform and there are three Sikhs who have achieved the rank of colonel who wear their turbans." Towns also pointed out that the "new regulations adopted in July 1999, just a month before Puniani joined the Army Reserve, denied this exemption for those who joined the service after 1984." Towns explained to the Speaker that the turban "was not a hat," saying "It is a religious symbol, like the cross or the Star of David. It should be afforded the same treatment."

The New York lawmaker warned the House that such a regulation could have an adverse impact in that "it might discourage Sikhs and other minorities from joining the military services of the United States. Our armed services need manpower. We should not be discouraging anyone from joining," Towns said, and added: "These minority Americans are important to our country and to the Army." He pointed out that "Canada and Britain have significant numbers of Sikhs in their military. They both allow these Sikhs to wear their turbans. Why can't we?"

Towns argued that "whatever your religious beliefs, the military should treat you equally. …

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