Opinion DC Comment 07 Jan 2017 A good step by US Ar ...

A good step by US Army

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Jan 7, 2017, 12:32 am IST
Updated Jan 7, 2017, 7:38 am IST
U.S. Army personal attend Christmas Eve's Mass in the Assyrian Orthodox church of Mart Shmoni, in Bartella, Iraq. (Photo: AP/File)
 U.S. Army personal attend Christmas Eve's Mass in the Assyrian Orthodox church of Mart Shmoni, in Bartella, Iraq. (Photo: AP/File)

The US Army’s move to allow those wearing turbans, hijabs or beards to join the military is a progressive step that respects religious diversity. From now, brigade-level permission will be given to those desiring to retain their unique religious identity, while earlier such permissions had to come from HQ level. The New York Police Department too now lets Sikhs grow beards and wear turbans. This is a sea change from old, conservative norms that ignored changes in American society. The commitment of religious minorities willing to serve their adopted country or country of birth loyally in civil and military forces is being recognised too. The respect for religious and personal freedoms even within strict military or police discipline will lead to greater understanding and cohesion, and is an example worth emulating elsewhere, where religious differences drag down human interaction over mutual suspicions.

To have minorities serving in the police is becoming important at a time when prejudices have to give way lest the minorities continue being targeted by forces with a majoritarian bias. This may be particularly relevant in the United States, where divisions are perhaps more racial than religious, as blacks are known to be unfairly targeted, and many black youths have been shot dead for no reason other than the colour of their skin. To actively seek to bring diversity in uniformed forces is one way on the path to better understanding. The US is showing the way, and the model should be adapted globally, while eschewing the temptation to make this just tokenism.

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