The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has announced that the U.S. Department of Defense will now allow Muslim and Sikh students participating in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) to wear headscarves and turbans while in uniform.
In September, Demin Zawity, a Muslim and member of the Brentwood, Tennessee Junior ROTC program and was told her religious headscarf was inconsistent with Army uniform policy and she would not be permitted to march in Ravenwood High School’s homecoming parade while in uniform.
Three months after the incident, the U.S. Department of Defense has provided a letter to CAIR assuring that changes would be made to its junior ROTC program, allowing some religious items to be worn by cadets, to be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Here is a direct link to the letter written by CAIR to the U.S. Department of Defense . The document is provided in PDF format.
In a December 19 letter sent to CAIR, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Larry Stubblefield wrote:
“I have been asked to respond on behalf of the Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta to your October 13, 2011 letter concerning Miss Demin Zawity’s request to wear a religious head covering (hijab) while participating in an Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) event at Ravenwood High School.
“Based on your concerns, the Army has reviewed its JROTC uniform policy and will develop appropriate procedures to provide Cadets the opportunity to request the wear of religious head dress, such as the turban and hijab. This change will allow Miss Zawity and other students the chance to fully participate in the JROTC program. Additionally, a representative from the U.S. Army Cadet Command will contact Miss Zawity and provide her the opportunity to rejoin the Ravenwood High School JROTC unit.
“The Army prides itself in being a diverse organization, comprised of individuals from many faiths and religions. We appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention.”
In a reply to the U.S. Department of Defense letter, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad stated: “We welcome the fact that Muslim and Sikh students nationwide will now be able to participate fully in JROTC leadership activities while maintaining their religious beliefs and practices.”