Texas Republicans Turn in Landslide Vote to Keep Muslim-American in Leadership Role

Members of the Tarrant County Republican Party overwhelmingly rejected the call to remove its vice chair, Shahid Shafi, because of his Muslim faith.

The prospective vote made national headlines earlier in the week after some precinct chairs called for his removal.

Instead, the motion was rejected by a 139-49 vote county party spokesman Mike Snyder told the Texas Tribune.

"As an immigrant to this great country, I am honored and privileged to receive the support of my fellow Republicans. We need to learn to trust each other so we can create a more perfect union every day," Shafi told reporters.

Shafi, a trauma surgeon, immigrated to the United States in 1990 and became a naturalized citizen in 2009.

Darl Easton, the chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party, applauded the vote in a statement given to the Associated Press, "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. 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."

Shafi was appointed to the vice chair position by Easton in July 2018.

However, while many were in support of Shafi retaining his post, several of his detractors remained steadfast that the doctor is not the right fit.

According to the Tribune, former chair Sara Legvold did not vote on the motion; instead she sat outside the meeting wearing a burqa. Legvold said the move was to "represent the Islamization of our county, our state and our country."

"You already see it in the workplace where Muslims demand they're able to wear their hijab and demand they get a prayer room. When was the last time a Christian was allowed to have a separate place to say their prayers?" Legvold said.

Dorrie O'Brien, a precinct chair, previously said that she felt Shafi was not a good fit for the position because he could have connections "to Islamic terror groups," the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram reported.

In a Facebook post, O'Brien stated that it was unsuitable for a Muslim to be vice chair of the organization.

"We don't think he's suitable as a practicing Muslim to be vice chair because he'd be the representative for ALL Republicans in Tarrant County, and not ALL Republicans in Tarrant County think Islam is safe or acceptable in the U.S., in Tarrant County, and in the TCGOP. There are big questions surrounding exactly where Dr. Shafi's loyalties lie, vis a vis Democrat and Republican policies," O'Brien wrote.

O'Brien proposed the motion to vote to remove Shafi, ABC News reported.

Many Texas politicians condemned the vote, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott.

Shafi, however, told reporters that though the past months have been hard, he stayed the course for religious freedom.

"As we struggled through the last few months, it would have been easy for me to quit, but I stayed on to fight. We were fighting for religious freedom...and today we have come out victorious," Shafi said.