Parents of young men and women hoping to get a job in the Australian Defence Force might not know who Zulkarnain Naim is.
But they will see his smiley face on Defence’s latest recruitment campaign.
Naim is a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy. And he’s pictured posing with his father. It’s designed to make parents feel warm and fuzzy.
But it shouldn’t.
After all, the video with Chief Petty Officer Naim starts like this:
The major concern my mum had with regards to me joining the navy was the loss of identity and our cultural heritage – how much I would have to assimilate to be able to fit in.
The Navy has changed a lot.
Twenty years ago when I first joined the Navy fixing aircraft was my life.
Now I’m advising senior leadership about multicultural and multi-faith aspects of our Navy community.
The message is loud and clear. Twenty years ago, people were expected to fit in. Now they get to advise the Navy how it should change to accommodate them and their Islamic beliefs.
That’s all fine and dandy if you’re an anarchist or a Muslim. Not many anarchist parents see their children sign up to put their lives on the line for the nation. And Muslims get to see the world change for them.
But if you are the parent of a child who is neither and they are thinking about serving at sea, it might be a tad worrying.
A cohesive team was previously deemed necessary to win wars. We haven’t seen if a disparate group of individuals will fare so well, but I’d be less than keen to see one of my own children used as the guinea pig in such a naval military experiment.
But I doubt the Navy really cares about that. Naim is not there to recruit budding young patriots from the majority of Australian families anyway. He’s there to promote recruitment from a special minority group: the Islamic community.
As a short aside, we understand that this program remains, thankfully, almost entirely unsuccessful. But it’s not due to lack of trying. It’s just that other armies seem to have captured that recruiting market.
Back to Naim.
He’s also the Chief of Navy’s Assistant Strategic Advisor on Islamic Cultural Affairs (otherwise known as the deputy to the infamous Captain Mona Shindy).
And he told the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia in 2015 that his job was all about Islamic recruitment, stating his role was to see:
“…better engagement with the Australian Islamic community to understand any potential barriers to recruitment and to promote the Navy as an employer of choice.”
It’s not a bad gig either.
After all, the Navy flew Naim to Saudi Arabia in 2015. With your taxes. And then boasted about it in the Navy newspaper:
THE RAN is primed to represent Australia at the next Prince Sultan International Military Quran Memorisation Competition after observing this year’s competition.
Last month, 27 nations were represented at the prestigious event, which was hosted by the Ministry of Defence of Saudi Arabia.
CPO Zulkarnain Naim, assistant to the Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs, said as the first ADF representative to attend the event, he was able to lay the groundwork for ADF members to compete in 2016 and beyond.
“The competition finds the most proficient defence force member from around the world who can best recite the holy Quran from memory,” CPO Naim said.
“The Quran has 114 chapters and is written in eloquent Arabic poetry.
“Many find it a challenge to read and recite from the holy book in general, particularly if they have not had formal Arabic training.
“The task of memorising the entire scripture is incredibly harder again, but a goal many Muslims set for themselves from a young age.”
Isn’t that nice…
And if you missed it, the Navy is also advertising elsewhere for devout Muslims too…