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Army grants Sikh enlistees waiver to its beard policy

This photo provided by the Sikh Coalition shows

This photo provided by the Sikh Coalition shows Army Capt. Simratpal Singh. Singh and three Army enlistees have won permission to wear beards and turbans after filing federal lawsuits that seek to force the Pentagon to accommodate those who wear beards for religious reasons. Photo Credit: AP / Jovelle Tamayo

McLEAN, Va. - The Army has ruled that three Sikh enlistees will be allowed to serve while keeping their distinctive beards and turbans.

The three Sikhs filed a lawsuit seeking to end a military policy that generally bans beards. The Sikh religion requires men to grow beards as an article of their faith.

On Friday, the Army granted exceptions to its policy to the three enlistees, Kanwar Singh, Harpal Singh and Arjan Singh Ghotra. They will now be allowed to wear beards and turbans when they begin basic training next month.

A fourth soldier, Capt. Simratpal Singh, also won an accommodation earlier this month.

The Sikh Coalition had sued on the soldiers' behalf. The coalition said it will still pursue its lawsuit in hopes of winning a permanent policy change for all Sikhs.

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