- Published on Friday, 16 March 2012 10:05
- Category: Grand Central Stories
Ahmed Nasser was born in Yemen in 1966. He had a relatively normal childhood, until northern soldiers took him away from his home at the age of 15 and forced him to join the army.
Nasser said he was scared to death and wanted desperately to escape. Luckily, he was able to because he had family in the U.S. After applying to an ESL program at Hunter College, Nasser moved overseas in 1986, possibly planning to return home.
“I was shocked and scared and didn’t know how to speak the language,” he recalled.
But that never happened.
Eventually, Nasser learned English, met his wife, got married and had two sons. He decided to finished college with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Baruch College. His wife’s brother was an American-born Yemeni police officer and encouraged Nasser to apply to the department.
“I didn’t know about policing – I was in the military and was not too crazy about it,” he recalled.
Nasser did become a police officer — only one of three Arab recruits in his class — and was placed in the 76 Precinct in Downtown Brooklyn, which has a large Arab population.
“After 9/11 that was my post,” he said.
Between December 2001 and January 2002 five officers formed the American Muslim Law Enforcement Association, to form unity and address issues in the community. Nasser invited agencies in the community to join.
In November 2002, Nasser was called for a position within community affairs and was choses to represent the Arab community.
He said he had to convince the community that he was here to help them. “Are you here to help us or here to spy on us,” they would ask him.
When asked about the NYPD surveillance scandal, he said the situation is “unfortunate,” because the NYPD has invested lots of time and energy to get more Muslims involved in the force.
“I think a lot about the amount of work that went on in my department to build trust between community and police department to get rid of that fear,” Nasser said.
However during an unrelated press conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the media’s scrutiny of the police department is “criticism misplaced” and even accused some outlets of “pandering.”
What do you expect from a man who called the NYPD his “own army?”By Denise Romano, Aslan Media Columnist
*Photo Credit: BBC
About the Columnist: Denise Romano
Denise is a freelance reporter extraordinaire. She is Brooklyn born and raised with a Print Journalism degree from Brooklyn College. Though not of Middle Eastern descent, she started a blog to tell the stories of Iranians and Iranian-Americans after the 2009 election fallout. Ever since, she has been dedicated to giving voice to those who are marginalized by the mainstream media. When she is not writing, Denise spends time with her husband, sings in a barbershop chorus, cooks Italian food, and watches Saturday Night Live. Because she is in tune with the beat of the Big Apple, she launched this blog to share the everyday concerns of New York's Middle Eastern diaspora communities exclusively with Aslan Media.