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CAIR Welcomes Updated Pentagon Policy on Religious Accommodation

Sikh-military-service(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/22/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed an updated Pentagon policy on religious accommodation for military personnel.

The updated policy, effective today, changes rules governing religious accommodations that include beards, turbans and other religious symbols.

Under the new policy, the military will make every effort to accommodate “individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs” unless it could have an “adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline.”

Commanders may grant special permission to display religious articles while in uniform. Requests for religious accommodation can be denied when the “needs of mission accomplishment outweigh the needs of the service member.”

The policy now states: “Service member's expression of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) may not be used as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.”

“We welcome the important decision to broaden the religious rights of American military personnel and hope this updated policy will allow all those in uniform to practice their faith while serving the nation,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Awad noted that CAIR has dealt with past requests for religious accommodations by Muslim military and ROTC personnel.

In 2011, CAIR successfully urged the Department of Defense (DOD) to allow Muslim and Sikh students who wear an Islamic head scarf (hijab) or a turban to participate in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC).

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,; CAIR Communications Manager Amina Rubin, 202-341-4171, 

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