Some Texas GOP members renew push to oust Muslim from top party post

FORT WORTH, Texas-A controversial plan to oust a top Tarrant County, Texas, Republican official because he's Muslim was revived late Thursday.

Republican Dorrie O'Brien proposed that the appointment of Shahid Shafi-who was named vice chairman of the local GOP this summer-be reconsidered in a secret ballot vote at the next party meeting after the Nov. 6 midterm election.

One Republican booed after O'Brien voiced her request during a meeting of local Republican party precinct chairs.

Tarrant County Chair Darl Easton, whose appointment of Shafi was approved by Republicans earlier this year, acknowledged O'Brien's request.

Shafi declined to comment on the motion, but when he later stood to introduce himself, dozens of Republicans gave him a standing ovation.

He told the crowd he was born in India and became a U.S. citizen in 2009.

"Since then, all I have tried to do was serve our country," said Shafi, a Southlake city councilman. "When Chairman Easton asked me to serve as vice chair, I was honored.

"I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud to be a Republican," he said, prompting another small standing ovation.

This moment came less than a month after a small group of local Republicans began calling for Shafi's removal from party leadership.

Taking 'our Party back'

O'Brien declined to discuss Thursday night why she made the motion to remove Shafi, but she recently posted on Facebook that Shafi is "a practicing Muslim and a MB (Muslim Brotherhood) operative."

"If it wasn't so dangerous to Texas and to our republic, I could let it go," she wrote. "But it IS that dangerous and I can't just sit by and watch it happen. I have to speak out regardless of threats of lawsuits to silence me or threats that I'll be personally responsible for turning Tarrant County blue, or attempts at public disdain to shame me into shutting up."

Her post echoed similar controversial posts made this summer that also asked for the removal of Shafi from party leadership.

"Dr. Shafi is a practicing, Mosque-attending muslim who claims not to follow sharia law or know what it is," Republican Sara Legvold wrote on the Protect Texas Facebook page in calling for his removal. "As a practicing muslim that is an overt falsehood. Sharia law is anathema to our Constitution because Islam recognizes no other law but shariah.

"As the most conservative county in the nation, this is a demoralizing blow to the conservative rank and file of the Republican Party across the nation and in Texas."

She also wrote that "it is past time we took our Party back with no apologies to anyone."

Many local Republicans have condemned the move.

"Dr. Shafi is a good man and this is inappropriate," District Clerk Tom Wilder said Thursday night.

Easton has spoken against this effort, calling it disgusting and embarrassing.

"The leadership of the Tarrant County Republican Party unequivocally rejects the religious discrimination being demonstrated by a few members of our Party," Easton said in a statement last month. "Intolerance, based on one's faith, has no place in the construct of Tarrant County GOP policy, and violates the very principles and moral values upon which our Nation and the Republican Party were founded."

Flaring up

O'Brien, a Republican precinct chair from Grand Prairie, made her motion soon after the meeting at the Faith Creek Church in Richland Hills began.

She gave notice that she plans to bring forward a motion at the party's November meeting to "amend the motion to ratify the appointment of Shafi" by secret ballot.

Another member called a point of order, a parliamentary move, saying O'Brien's request shouldn't include how such a reconsideration take place.

This issue began flaring up again recently on social media, particularly when local Republican James Trimm posted an article he wrote-Has Tarrant County GOP turned its back on Israel?-on Facebook.

He noted that Tarrant County is the largest red area across the state and nation and "If Tarrant County goes, so will go the state of Texas and the nation."

"If Dr. Shafi himself will publicly state that he will support Israel with Jerusalem as its undivided capital and oppose creation of a Palestinian State within the historic borders of Israel, I will not only support him, I will spread the message of his support worldwide," Trimm wrote. "Yet, to date, he has failed to do so."