A Court Ruled That A Sikh Student Wouldn't Have To Violate His Religion To Join The Army

He would have had to cut his hair and remove his turban.

Iknoor Singh is a Hofstra student who wanted to enroll in his college's Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

But when he found that he would have to choose between serving his country and abiding by his Sikh faith, Singh filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army last year. Now, a court ruled the Sikh student can join the Army without having to shave his beard, cut his hair or remove his turban — all acts prohibited by the Sikh religion. 

Singh, a sophomore at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., has harbored the lifelong interest in public service and a few years back began considering a career in the military. The multilingual student applied for the ROTC program last year, but faced a conundrum — he would have to remove his hair and beard, and take off his turban (in violation of his religion) to enroll, then only was he eligible to apply for a waiver on religious grounds. 

The groups United Sikhs and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) helped Singh file the lawsuit in November. On Friday, when U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson announced her decision, Singh said he did not believe it at first. He told CBS New York:

It was kind of surreal. This is something I have been fighting for for two or three years. I'm excited and nervous; very excited to learn. Hopefully it opens a lot of doors for Sikhs to join in and serve their nation.

[Cover image via iStock/cjmflyer]