I want to introduce readers to ROOTS, an important book about leaving a life of crime by Marie Louise Toksvig. It is Nedim Yasar’s personal memoirs….

Nedim Yasar was born in Turkey, moved to Denmark at age four, and grew up to be the subject of this book.  His story is not ordinary, because he also grew up to become leader of Los Guerreros, a notorious gang heavily involved with the drug trade and related crimes, including violence, robbery, and blackmail.

In 2012 a major turning point in Vasar’s life contributed to his story becoming even more extraordinary. He made a decision to end his gang affiliation when he learned he was going to become a father.

After participating in a successful exit program in Copenhagen, he dedicated himself to help steer others away from gang life. Yasar mentored young people as host of a local Copenhagen radio station and became a respected voice for change.

Then murderers shot and killed 31 year old Yasar in November 2018. This cowardly act just as his book was being released could cause hopelessness, because it appeared that evil had won. Yet I think there is much hope to be found in Yasar’s life-changing decision and dedicated efforts to help young people avoid his previous path.

As his child, a son, grows up, may he be proud of his father and see Nedim Yasar as a courageous hero who took a stand for his son to have a better life. Yasar didn’t choose to “disappear” into anonymity — a much safer choice — but chose to proceed publicly via his radio show, this book, and other meaningful efforts. He must have realized the dangers of sharing his personal story in a public way especially after a previous attempt on his life a year earlier.

Yasar must have had hope that his son will never fall prey to the dangerous hate-filled lifestyle that he had experienced in his own past. Yasar chose hope to change first his own life then modeled hope for his son and other young people.

The hope presented here today is the reality of a changed life. Also I find hope in the fact that hope didn’t end with Yasar’s death. The book, ROOTS, is full of hope and impacts others. The legacy of Nedim Yasar includes countless changed lives. His heritage is a son to follow his determined walk in a different direction toward a better life.

I want to share Nedim Yasar’s story and promote the hope at the heart of his changed life. I believe that his murderers did not win. Nothing can stop real hope. Hope always trumps hate… always.

A quote by holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom comes to mind: “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”


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