The Pentagon on Wednesday announced it’s relaxing uniform rules for soldiers in cases where the previous code contradicted their religious beliefs. The new rules will now allow, according to the BBC, religious garments such as turbans and skullcaps, as well as permit soldiers to have beards, tattoos and piercings that serve a religious purpose. According to the Wall Street Journal, “military service members will have to request exemptions from current uniform rules from their commanders, and in some cases higher headquarters.”
The new rules, for example, would allow Sikh service members to wear turbans and maintain a beard to comport with their religious beliefs. The new policy comes, according to the Journal, “after Sikhs pressed the military to allow members of their faith to grow beards, keep their hair uncut and wear turbans, as required by their faith.” NBC News reports that, according to Department of Defense statistics, only a handful of soldiers self-identified as Sikh, while 3,700 indentified themselves as Muslims and nearly as 6,300 Buddhists. “Military officials wouldn’t say if the new rules would allow Muslim headscarves, but the new rules appear drafted to accommodate such requests,” the Journal reports.