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Muslims in Indian Air Force can’t keep beard: SC

NEW DELHI: Air Force personnel can’t wear beards, an Indian court ruled in response to the complaint of a Muslim man. The man, who was fired for growing a beard, had claimed that he had a fundamental right to have a beard. The ruling was made by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, Indian media...

SAMAA | - Posted: Dec 16, 2016 | Last Updated: 4 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Dec 16, 2016 | Last Updated: 4 years ago
Muslims in Indian Air Force can’t keep beard: SC

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NEW DELHI: Air Force personnel can’t wear beards, an Indian court ruled in response to the complaint of a Muslim man.

The man, who was fired for growing a beard, had claimed that he had a fundamental right to have a beard.

The ruling was made by Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, Indian media reported.

The ruling is a response to petitions and complaints made by Ansari Aftab Ahmed, who was fired from the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2008 after refusing to shave his beard. Thursday’s ruling upholds their decision.

Ahmed claimed that wearing a beard is a fundamental right as a Muslim, while arguing that Sikhs are allowed to wear long hair, turbans, and beards as their religion requires.

The Indian Defense Ministry’s policy regarding “hair, beard and wearing turbans,” introduced in 2003, states that “only those Muslim personnel, who had kept beard along with moustache at the time of commissioning /enrolment prior to 01 Jan 2002, would be allowed to keep beard and moustache.”

Muslims who have, however, grown beards after joining the service “should shave off the beard,” it states.

Ahmed is not the only person who has filed a complaint regarding the policy. In 2008, IAF Corporal Mohammed Zubair and Maharashtra policeman Mohammad Fasi filed similar complaints.

With the exception of Sikhs, military personnel in India are only allowed to grow whiskers and moustaches, which should be of moderate length.

Islam is the second-largest religion in India, making up 14.9% of the country’s population with about 180 million adherents (2011 census). According to the Pew Research Center, in 2011, India had the second largest population of Muslims, after Indonesia. – Samaa

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