First Muslim Admiral in British Royal Navy

Posted on November 22, 2006

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The Royal Navy has appointed its first Muslim Rear Admiral, Pakistan-born Amjad Hussain, a British newspaper said Friday, April 14. “I count myself very lucky to live in a country where the opportunities have been beyond my imagination,” Hussain told The Sun.

Rear Admiral is the fourth-highest rank in the Royal Navy, equivalent to a major-general in the Army or an Air Vice-Marshal in the Royal Air Force.

Hussain, who has become the highest-ranking ethnic officer among the 200,000 personnel of the British armed forces, said in the Navy one’s work is what really matters.

Speaking at an awards ceremony where he received the Lloyds TSB Asian Jewel Award marking his 30 years of service to the British Armed Forces, Commodore Hussain said: “I am lucky enough to work for an organisation that is more interested in what I can do rather than where I come from.”

Here are a couple of excerpts from an interview he conducted with the Guardian recently:

Q: Has religion played a role in your career?

A: It is the underpinning for my moral code and the navy is a very moral organisation. I view Islam, Christianity and Judaism as fundamentally the same.

Q: What about racial discrimination?

A: If you are operating in hostile conditions, your survival depends on the close-knit team you are working with. So you have to respect the person next to you.

Q: Have you experienced discrimination because of your faith?

A: The humour was a bit caustic 30 years ago and a cheese omelette was the only alternative on the menu to pork, but what was acceptable then in society is not acceptable today.

Q: How are the armed forces addressing discrimination?

A: They are now more responsive and sensitive to the individual.

Q: What is the best piece of management advice you have received?

A: Find something you enjoy and do it. When it stops being fun, go and find something else.