04:16 GMT26 November 2020
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    In 2018, US Air Force Staff Sergeant Abdul Rahman Gaitan became the first Muslim airman to obtain a beard waiver on religious grounds

    The US Air Force has updated its dress code to allow religious exemption for hijabs, turbans, and beards when in uniform.

    The new dress code guidelines, which were issued last week by the secretary of the Air Force, stipulate wearing religious head gear and beards in a “in a neat and conservative manner”.

    Moustaches should be trimmed so as not to cover the upper lip, according to the guidelines. 

    The rules also call on US airmen to wear their turbans, hijabs and beards in a “manner that presents a professional and well-groomed appearance”.

    This comes after the US Army released in 2017 the guidelines that clarified the terms for requesting religious accommodations for servicemen.

    Speaking to the newspaper Air Force Times last week, Airman 1st Class Gurchetan Singh stressed that he is grateful “to hear of this policy change, because it codifies in writing what I already know: The U.S. Air Force values the service and contribution of religious minorities like me”.

    “Accommodations, after all, aren't about special treatment — they are about ensuring that religiously observant Sikhs and others don't have to choose between staying true to our faith and serving our country”, Singh added.

    In recent years, the Air Force granted religious exemptions on a case-by-case basis, allowing several airmen permission to wear beards, turbans and the hijab for religious reasons.

    In 2018, Staff Sergeant Abdul Rahman Gaitan in 2018 became the first Muslim airman to receive a beard waiver, while Captain  Ouza was the first Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps officer to wear the hijab.

    In June 2019, Airman 1st Class Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa was mentioned as the first active-duty Sikh airman who was allowed to wear a turban, beard and long hair.

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    policy, dress code, US Air Force, US
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