Jones Alan Jones talks to Bernard Gaynor, the former Army major about moves to change the hat badges of Australian Army chaplains
Army chaplains to remove ‘conquer’ from 102-year-old motto because it is offensive to Muslims
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THE Australian Army is removing the motto “In this sign conquer” from the 102-year-old hat badges of army chaplains because it is offensive to Muslims.
The move comes after an imam approved by the Grand Mufti was appointed to join the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services in June.
Australian Army chaplains have had the motto on their hat badges since 1913.
Former army major Bernard Gaynor, whose commission was terminated last year due to his outspoken views, said: “This is political correctness destroying our military heritage.”
Mr Gaynor, who is standing as the Australian Liberty Alliance senate candidate for Queensland, said political correctness in the military was highlighted by the appointment of an imam.
“The government must stop the political correctness. It must dismiss the Defence Imam for his views. And it must put Australia first,” he said.
Military historian Professor Peter Stanley from UNSW Canberra said: “The motto was acceptable 100 years ago but today has crusader connotations.”
Despite the perceived crusader links, he said the motto actually comes from Emperor Constantine’s vision before he won the battle of Milviian Bridge in 312AD and converted to Christianity: “Jewish chaplains already have a separate badge with a Star of David, so Muslim chaplains would not be expected to wear the current badge. They would have one with a crescent.”
Army chaplains are understood to have pushed for the change. Former principal chaplain to the army Monsignor Greg Flynn said: “We have been aware of this coming down the track and most chaplains would agree with the change. It is a reality.”
Professor Tom Frane, former Bishop to the Defence Force, said: “It seems like a crusading motto — triumphal. It is not the first time it has been misinterpreted. If times have changed it is worth another look.”
The army imam, Sheik Mohamadu Nawas Saleem, has previously called for sharia law to be introduced into Australia. He signed a petition supporting radical Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has argued in favour of honour killings and said Muslim students should not be forced to honour Anzac Day.
Sheik Saleem works about 40 days a year for the Army and is paid $717 for each one: almost $30,000 a year.
The sheik did not respond to requests for comment.
Sheik Saleem was supported for the role by Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, who this week sparked controversy by failing to come straight out and condemn the Paris terror attacks.
The Defence spokeswoman said: “There are 102 ADF permanent members who self-identify as Muslim. In addition there are 40 Active Reservists who have declared as Muslim.’’