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Sikh News Sikh-American soldiers sidelined for turbans and beards

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by kds1980, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Sikh-American soldiers sidelined for turbans and beards
    Posted by Meeta Kaur/ NJ Voices Guest Blogger June 26, 2009 4:10PM
    Categories: Policy Watch


    [​IMG]
    AP Photo/Mel Evans
    Dr. Kamal S. Kalsi stands near Saint Joseph's hospital in Paterson, where he works. Kalsi, a Sikh, is also a captain in the U.S. Army and is reporting for duty in July. He had been under the impression that his beard and turban are allowed, but recently found out that is not the case. The Army has sent a letter saying they're going to review the policy.

    General Frank Walter Messervy, a British Indian Army officer who served in World War I and II, described an observation he had of a particular kind of solider serving the British army:

    "In the last two World Wars 83,005 turban-wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and 109,045 were wounded. They all died or were wounded for the freedom of Britain and the World, enduring shell fire with no other protection but the turban..."

    The sheer number of Sikhs soldiers cited serving in the British army is a testament to how much faith the British army has in Sikhs soldiers. It is also a testament to the British Army's respect for turbaned Sikhs serving with their religious articles of faith intact.

    The US Army has also recruited Sikh soldiers in the past, but has recently banned Captain Kamaljit Singh Kalsi, a New Jersey resident, and Second Lieutenant Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a New York City resident, from reporting for active duty on July 1st with their articles of faith intact.

    Part of the military's objection to turbans and beards centers on esprit de corps, the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group.

    The ban on a Sikh American soldier's articles of faith suggests that the US Army regards the standard uniform of a crew cut and shaved face as the binding factor amongst US soldiers. The explicit danger military soldiers can face indicates that most soldiers judge other soldiers by their character and their ability to perform in that life-defining moment, not their religious identity and appearance. And if for a brief second we entertain the notion that soldiers are judged by their religious identity, wouldn't most soldiers want other soldiers of committed faith by their side?

    During World War I, American women and African Americans struggled to fully participate in the US Military for fifty years because gender and race were perceived as a disruption to military unit cohesion. In 1948, President Harry Truman punctuated this struggle with executive orders that granted full US Military participation to both American women and African Americans on the basis of equality. Today, both parties occupy US military leadership roles and participate in combat. This again reinforces that there is something deeper than appearance in the way of race or gender that binds US military soldiers together to create a common spirit.

    When it comes down to life-defining moments, most converge on the shared experience we call life.

    As a nation, we have outgrown these outdated inequalities, so lets move forward and not waste time re-living archaic notions that suggest we ban Sikh Americans from the US military only to let them participate fifty years from now. Lets get on with the business at hand.

    A Sikh American's turban is an article of faith that binds a Sikh to an ethical code of conduct. Part of that conduct includes protecting and serving fellow human beings. Banning a Sikh soldier's articles of faith will destroy the very spirit that will promote and contribute to the common enthusiasm, devotion and strong honor for the group within a military unit. A Sikh soldier's turban is a guarantee of that very spirit. Let Sikh Americans serve in the military with their articles of faith.
     
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  3. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    Sikh Coalition has taken action on this one.
     
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  4. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    I don't understand when so many sikhs are serving in Indian Army then Why US army has problem with beard and turban.There is not even a single reported incident when because of turban or beard any casuality has happened. US Army has much better equipment than Indian army , chances of any casuality happening due to turban or beard is almost none.
     
  5. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    kds ji

    There is more to this controversy than whether Sikhs in military uniform should be allowed to wear turbans. To permit the wearing of religious garb is dilemma for all departments of government.

    Reason:
    The first Amendment of the US Constitution "expressly prohibits the United States Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion" or that prohibit the free exercise of religion, infringe the freedom of speech, infringe the freedom of the press, limit the right to peaceably assemble, or limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances." (from Wikipedia)

    If religious symbols are worn by employees of the government, then some groups will say (and have said in the past ) that the government is promoting religion. This is why government employees are not allow to wear religious garb, it is why the words "under God" were taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance to the US, it is why the Bible is not read in schools any longer. Each of these traditional practices were contested by one or more groups of citizens who said they were unconstitutional practices, as the government was imposing religion on the public.

    On the other hand the amendment also says Congress cannot prohibit free exercise of religion. So to prohibit turbans prohibits the free exercise of the Sikh religion. Therefore, the plaintiffs will need to petition the government as they have already done and if the dilemma cannot be resolved then it goes to the federal courts for a trial and a decision.

    When there are diverse religious and nonreligious opinions in the body politic, then a process of evaluation occurs. Which is happening in this case.

    Historically
    The US Constitution, which includes this First Amendment, would not have been approved by all of the original 13 states without its current wording. Massachusetts would not sign off without a clause that prohibited the establishment of religion or prevented the free exercise of religion. On the other side, there were political interests in Virginia that favored a state religion. So the current wording was hammered out so that the Virginia state legislature eventually accepted it. At that point Massachusetts was satisfied. The constitution was signed in 1789. The first amendment controversy was the result of years of religious oppression (and even torture and execution of colonists) by the British during colonial rule.

    Explained here Understanding the History of the First Amendment: The Origins of Religious Liberty in America | Suite101.com
     
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  6. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Antonia ji

    There is a difference between religious symbol and necesssity of a religion.A sikh can wear 100 of religious symbols to display but turban and beard is necessary

    Here is some facts about muslims in US army
    The Rise of Islam - Harun Yahya
    As a result, the army has made some concessions to make life easier for Muslim soldiers. For example, pork is not included in their meals, they can perform their Friday congregational prayers, and those who wish to make pilgrimage have an easier time of fulfilling this obligation. These concessions were reported in the Washington Post in 1998:
    During Ramadan, when Muslims refrain from food and drink during daylight hours, military commanders are urged to accommodate their fasting servicemen and women-excusing them, in some cases, from rigorous physical exercise. The commanders also allow flexible work hours so Muslims can take iftar, the traditional fast-ending meal, and attend the social gatherings and community prayers that usually follow.52

    USA is so liberal that it is fulfilling requirement of necceasary requirement of muslims in US army
    despite the fact that muslims consider America their enemy.I find no reason for them not to fulfill basic requirement of Sikh faith which are patrotic ,brave and loyal to USA
     
  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    kdsj i

    Wiccans also are able to conduct their rituals. Sikhs can say their NitNem. Catholics can take holy communion. Everyone is permitted to conduct their religious rituals no matter the religion. That comes under the free exercise of religion. However Muslim women in the don't wear the veil.

    The problem comes up when a representative/employee of the government wears religious symbols thereby making it look as if the government has established a religious practice. The only ones who can wear religious garb/symbols are the chaplains.

    And it would be unconstitutional to prevent Muslims from conducting prayers or observing Ramadan because they would then be singled out. Having half the muslim world dedicated to the destruction of the US - if that is true - does not guarantee that Muslims in the US armed forces should be suspected in advance of having the same intention in the absence of having any evidence. That would be a violation of an unwritten tenet of US law, the presumption of innocence, by which one is presumed innocent until proved guilty. This goes back to English common law.

    An interesting story of how in the US Army everybody has to be the same http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/15/nyregion/15muslim.html
     

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