26th December 2011: Muslim and Sikh cadets will be allowed to wear the hijab headscarf from now on. Following the case of a 14-year-old Muslim high school student who was who was forced to leave her Junior ROTC unit, because she could not remove her head scarf to take part in the homecoming parade, the Defense Department has reviewed its uniform policy, it emerged last week.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to ask for religious accommodations, as protected by the constitution, for Demin Zawity and future Muslim cadets at Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, in Tennessee.
|Justice: Demin Zawity who was forced to leave her Junior ROTC unit, because she could not remove her head scarf to take part in the homecoming parade|
Demin Zawity was forced to leave the unit after a commanding officer said she must remove the hijab while in uniform on parade. The student told Fox News at the time: ' We were getting ready for the homecoming parade and the head officer said that I wouldn't be able to wear the headscarf while I had the uniform on. 'I said that it was a religious thing and that I really couldn't take it off.' CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad told the Orlando Sentinel: '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.'
The Defense department wrote to CAIR on December 19th to inform them of the policy review.
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.
|Turnaround: Muslim and Sikh high school Junior ROTC cadets will be allowed to wear the hijab headscarf from now on (stock image)|
'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.'