Sikh soldier sues Army over religious right to beard, turban

A U.S. Army captain who is a practicing Sikh asked a federal court on Monday to protect his right to wear a turban and sport a beard while on duty, which are both disallowed under military regulations.

Capt. Simratpal Singh asked a federal district court in Washington to protect his constitutional rights while he serves in the Army, where the Ranger School graduate is known as Simmer. He was given temporary waivers to wear a turban and a beard while on duty starting last year, but the last one is set to expire soon. The nonmedical waivers are rare, and Singh’s was just the fourth granted since a ban on beards began in the 1980s.

Singh, a decorated combat veteran and West Point graduate, received the waiver when he reported to a new assignment in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, near Washington. 

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