A group of Texas republicans are set to vote Thursday night on whether to remove the vice chairman of the Tarrance County GOP from his post because he is a Muslim.
The matter of whether or not to oust Shahid Shafi, a surgeon and Southlake city council member, has garnered widespread attention since the efforts began a few months ago. Republican officials have denied the move is about religion but rather, whether of not the local politician, appointed to his position in July, is loyal to Islamic law or connected to “Islamic terror groups,” the Star Telegram reported.
Precinct chairwoman Debbie O’Brien has been outspoken about efforts to recall Shafi on social media.
“We don’t think that 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, and there are big questions surrounding where Dr. Shafi’s loyalties lie, vis a vis Democrat and Republican policies,” she wrote in one of several Facebook posts dedicated to the topic.
Shafi, who was born in India and raised in Pakistan, became a U.S. citizen in 2009. He has repeatedly pushed back on allegations that he favors Sharia Law over the American court system.
“This is unfortunately not the first time that people or my political opponents have tried to use my religion against me to distract the voters,” Shafi told the Washington Post. “And unfortunately, I don’t think it will be the last either.”
But he’s also earned the backing of other high-profile republicans, including Texas Sen.Ted Cruz.
“Discrimination against Dr. Shafi b/c he’s Muslim is wrong. The constitution prohibits any religious test for public office & the First Amendment protects religious liberty for every faith,” Cruz said in a December tweet. “The Party of Lincoln should welcome everybody & celebrate Liberty.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week also weighed in on the campaign against Shafi.