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Houston Gets its First Muslim and Pakistani American Assistant Police Chief

Houston Gets its First Muslim and Pakistani American Assistant Police Chief

Staff Writer
  • Cmdr. Yasar Bashir makes history as head of the Family Violence Department.

Yasar Bashir, a Pakistani-American commander, made history by becoming the first Muslim Assistant Chief of Houston Police as head of the Family Violence Department. Bashir was appointed on April 17 by Chief Troy Finner, an official Houston police department announcement stated.

The U.S. Embassy of Islamabad in Washington D.C., noted in a celebratory tweet that Bashir, who also appeared in a National Geographic feature on Muslims in America in 2018, is the first Muslim assistant chief of police in the United States.

Bashir was formerly commander of Major Assaults for the Midwest Division, responsible for District 18. Born near Lahore, Bashir immigrated to the United States with his family in1985, when he was only 8. He joined the police force in 2001 and was in the academy when 9/11 happened. He was studying finance when someone urged him to try the police department and stay if he liked it. “I liked it so much that I went back to the university (of Houston-Clear Lake) and did a master’s in criminology,” he told Dawn.

Asked why he decided to stay in the force, Bashir said, “It’s exciting. It’s different and allows you to have a positive impact on others.” When reminded that this was not a popular profession among South Asians, most of whom want to study medicine or computer science, Bashir told Dawn, “You should do what you like. Besides, being in the police enables you to help the community.”

Amid the rise in cases of Islamophobia, Bashir refuted any such incidents in Houston. Bashir said, “Houston is very different, and has a truly diverse and open culture. It’s one of the best cities in the US. I received so much love and affection from my fellow officers that I will disagree with the suggestion.” 

He said that the department was particularly helpful to its Muslim officers during Ramadan (which is currently ongoing), giving time for iftar/dinner breaks and time to pray.“Houston Police Chief Troy Finner went to a Muslim community event to announce my appointment, saying ‘I am going to have somebody who will represent all of you’,” he further added.

The Houston Police Department has many South Asian and Muslim police officers. “There are more desi officers in HPD,” said Bashir in a telephone interview to Dawn, “and several of them are deep undercover. But most of the desi officers are Pakistanis, followed by Indians.” Texas is home to a large Pakistani community and the city of Houston is the preferred destination for many Pakistani and Indian immigrants. 

Pakistani Twitterati expressed their delight with the inclusivity. Tweeted Muhammad Farid, “Thank you United States for providing us equal opportunities.” 

Muhammad Bilal Ghazi tweeted, “I’m feeling proud today of Pakistan USA thanks for sharing really appreciated.”

While netizen Alina Ali summed up the emotion by simply tweeting,“Super!”

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