CAIRO—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.
“Like most people I’ve just got on with my job. I would hate to think anybody would get promoted because of their ethnic origin,” the father of three told Britain’s biggest-selling daily.
A Navy spokesman said: “Rear Admiral Hussain beat off formidable competition. He has achieved this rank on his own merit.”
The admiral made national headlines in 1989 when he escorted Princess Diana around his ship, the frigate HMS Cornwall.
He also showed the Queen around HMS Endurance in Portsmouth before her review of the fleet during the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Hussain, 47, said he came across some racial slurs at the very beginning of his career, but his behavior and work spoke louder and removed pre-conceptions.
“Occasionally you used to get the odd stupid bout of name-calling but that was more in the early days.
“But it never affected me, or made any difference to my job really. When people got to know me, all pre-conceptions disappeared,” he said.
He said the Navy is not the sort of place where “you are made to feel different.”
“It has always been a very close team. I have never thought of myself as anything other than a normal Navy officer.”
The Foreign Office honored last month a host of British Muslims for their great contributions to the country.
The award for excellence in engineering, science and technology went to Professor Saghir Akhtar, an internationally renowned academic in drug delivery of genome-based therapeutics and currently Chair of Drug Delivery and Director of the Centre for Genome Based Therapeutics at Cardiff University.
Young England cricketer Bilal Mustapha Shafayat won the award for excellence in sports.
Ahmad Al-Rawi, the president of the Leicestershire-based Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), was given the ward for excellence in promoting understanding between global cultures and faiths.
A February poll showed that 91 percent of British some 1.6 million Muslims are “loyal” to Britain and 80 percent still want to live in and accept Western society.
Following the July 7 terrorist London attacks, Muslim leaders pledged an active participation in government efforts to combat the poisonous phenomenon of extremism for the welfare of British society.