Texas County Republicans vote against removing India-born Muslim Vice Chair Shahid Shafi

Shahid Shafi
Shahid Shafi; image via Facebook

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. Ted Cruz and Land Commissioner George P. Bush supported Shafi.

In a welcoming show of solidarity, an India-born, Pakistan-raised Muslim surgeon survived ouster as a vice chairman of the Republican Party in Tarrant County in Texas.

The Tarrant County Republican Party rejected a motion to oust Shahid Shafi, a city council member and a trauma surgeon, 139-49 votes.

The voting was held on January 10. Shafi is a Muslim who was born in India and raised in Pakistan. He has been a naturalized US citizen since 2009.

“Today, my faith in our party and our country has been reaffirmed,” Shafi said in a Facebook post. “My fellow Republicans have demonstrated that we remain the party of Lincoln and Reagan, which is open to all Americans, regardless of their religion, caste, creed, color, ethnicity or country of origin.”

“This vote reaffirms the commitment by a majority of Tarrant County Republicans to our core values and moral compass, a demonstration of our allegiance to the Texas Republican Party Platform and the Constitutions of the United States and Texas, which strictly prohibit religious and racial discrimination of any kind,” a written statement issued by Tarrant County Republican Party chair Darl Easton read. “While tonight’s vote brings an end to this unfortunate episode, it also demonstrates we are a party that respects the right of those who disagree on an issue to have a seat at the table and their voices heard.”

Easton added, “Religious liberty won tonight and while that makes a great day for the Republican Party of Tarrant County, that victory also serves notice that we have much work to do unifying our party.”

The meeting was no less dramatic as one Shafi’s chief critics Sara Legvold, a former member of the Texas State Republican Executive Committee, wore a burqa as she stood in a lobby to underline her opposition.

“You already see it in the workplace where Muslims demand they’re able to wear their hijab and demand they get a prayer room,” she was quoted by Texas Tribune as saying. “When was the last time a Christian was allowed to have a separate place to say their prayers?”

However top Republicans such as Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen.Ted Cruz and Land Commissioner George P. Bush supported Shafi.

In the Facebook post, Shafi said that last several months have been extremely difficult for him and his family. “It would have been easier to quit but I stayed on to fight because I believe the issue was far larger than retaining the title of Vice Chair,” he wrote. “We were fighting for religious freedom, a founding principle of our nation.”

He wrote that with the vote, the party has “sent a clear message to the entire nation that we continue to believe that all men are created equal.”

He added: “[We] have taken a stand against bigotry… against religious discrimination, and to protect our Constitution and the freedoms offered by our Country. Our union is a little more perfect today.”

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