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Sikhs sue Marine Corps for the right to wear turbans and beards during overseas deployment, boot camp

Sikh US Marine religious discrimination
  • Capt. Sukhbir Singh Toor and three prospective Sikh U.S. Marine Corps recruits, Milaap Singh Chahal, Jaskirat Singh and Aekash Singh, sued the Marine Corps on Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after they were told that they must remove their religious articles during overseas deployment and boot camp.
  • The Marine Corps stated that “there can be no full religious accommodations for Marines because beards and religious articles offend the ‘uniformity’ that the Marine Corps claims is critical.” The Marine Corps also said that beards could interfere with the effectiveness of gas masks.
  • Representatives of the Sikh men argued that the Marine Corps changed its shaving policy in January to allow service members with medical conditions to forgo the rule.
  • The men’s attorneys also pointed out that other military branches, such as the Army and the Air Force, do not have restrictions that target religious articles.
  • “I have proven my commitment to the Corps through my four years of service, and I’m ready to deploy just like any other service member,” Toor said in a statement. “I can’t do that, however, as long as I’m left on the bench because of my religious beliefs.”

A U.S. Marine Corps captain and three prospective Sikh recruits are suing the Marine Corps after being told not to don religious articles during boot camp and overseas deployment.

Capt. Sukhbir Singh Toor, who currently serves as Battalion Fire Direction Officer for 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines at Twentynine Palms, California, joined the Marine Corps in 2017 and had to make “the extremely difficult decision to shave his beard and cut his hair.” The 27-year-old was permitted to keep his turban, long hair and beard after filing a request in March 2021.