Texas prison officials cannot prohibit Muslim inmates from growing a beard up to four inches long or from donning religious head wear, a federal appeals court has ruled.

David Rasheed Ali, serving concurrent 20-year sentences for arson and aggravated robbery, filed suit seven years ago arguing that the tenets of his religion required him to wear a beard and a kufi, a knit skullcap.

When Ali sued, prison policy required inmates to be clean shaven, although those with skin conditions could grow a quarter-inch beard. Last year, however, Texas began allowing inmates to grow a half-inch beard as part of their religious practice after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prisoners had a right to wear facial hair to express their faith.

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