Jan 11, 2019, 12:01 AM ET

Republican group in Texas votes not to kick out Muslim member

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A regularly scheduled meeting for a county Republican party in Texas got national attention Thursday night as it held a vote over whether to remove a member of the leadership team because he’s Muslim.

The measure failed by a vote of 139 to 49, according to Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA.

The Republican Party chair hailed the decision to keep Shahid Shafi, a trauma surgeon and city council member who was appointed to be one of the vice chairs of the Tarrant County GOP.

"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," Tarrant County Republican Party Chair Darl Easton said in a written statement provided to The Associated Press.

Shafi told reporters outside the meeting following the vote, "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."

PHOTO: A supporter outside called for Shahid Shafi not to be ousted from the Tarrant County GOP. A vote was held Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, and Shafi was not removed, despite a fellow members calls to do so over him being Muslim.WFAA
A supporter outside called for Shahid Shafi not to be ousted from the Tarrant County GOP. A vote was held Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, and Shafi was not removed, despite a fellow member's calls to do so over him being Muslim.

Shafi was appointed to the role by the county GOP chairman in July and his appointment was overwhelmingly ratified by the group’s precinct chairs, but Jeremy Bradford, the group’s executive director, told ABC News that there was a vocal vote of dissent placed by Dorrie O’Brien.

Bradford said that O’Brien later put forward the motion to have him removed from his position.

"She has publicly said it is based on his faith and the fact that he’s a Muslim," Bradford told ABC News.

"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," O’Brien recently posted on Facebook, according to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. "There are big questions surrounding exactly where Dr. Shafi’s loyalties lie."

O’Brien and Shafi did not return ABC News’ requests for comment.

The vote that will determine whether or not to remove Shafi will be held Thursday evening at the group’s executive committee meeting, and "the vote will depend on who shows up."

"I don’t have a whip count," Bradford said.

As for Shafi, Bradford described him as "a known commodity" who has been a part of the county GOP for 10 years.

"He’s a good person," Bradford said of Shafi. "He has a heart for reaching out to parts of our community that aren’t typically part of the Republican fold."

A number of high profile Texas Republicans have supported Shafi publicly, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas land commissioner George P. Bush, who have condemned the religious discrimination that they see at hand in this case.

Shafi spoke to CNN in December, stressing that their party “has very specific rules that prohibit religious discrimination. Our country has specific rules and our constitution prohibits it.”

"So when this controversy arose because of a small number of people at the fringes of our party, it's been really very -- they're doing a disservice to our party," Shafi said to CNN.

Bradford also stressed the impact that the situation has had on the group and their goals.

"Honestly it’s frustrating," Bradford said of the attention that the vote has received. "We would very much like to be focused on raising money and getting ready for the presidential election cycle. This has been a major distraction for our party."

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  • Liz Leyden

    In my area, a successful small business owner who was also an immigrant from Pakistan ran for a local office as a Republican. He lost. Before he ran agaon, he switched parties, saying he realized the party had no place and no support for people like him.

  • justagramma

    They gave the fox his own nest in the hen house.

  • Lisa

    It only failed because the eyes of the nation was on them. Repubs are bigots, pure and simple.

  • Not Fancy

    An upstanding citizen that has been involved in local politics for quite a while AND a trauma surgeon. Maybe those racists would rethink things when they are laying on an operating table with their life, or the lives of their children, being dependant on his knowledge, ability, professional dedication, and being a fellow human being.

  • SarcasTex

    Dorrie Obrein and all of those that voted for removal are the ones that should be removed.Discrimination based on religion is unconstitutional and anti American.

  • Shawn Williams

    If the opposition to religious discrimination was truly a "core value" for this body, there should have not been a need to vote on the matter.

  • notagain

    Please print the names of those who voted to remove someone based on their religion. That is not American. Why on earth would such a vote even be held?

  • DemagogueDamage

    I was actually heartened by this story. The vast majority of TX GOP was right on point in supporting religious freedom without being hypoccritical about WHICH religion. Good on all of them! My impression of the GOP has been the vote would be the other way around.

    I just don't understand why more GOP don't meet Democrats in the middle on things like this. We do NOT support jihadism (I firmly believe that once ANY form of religion starts to teach ANY kind of VIOLENCE, it should no longer be recognized or protected as a religion; it should in fact be investigated, exposed and eradicated.) But there are hundreds of millions of Muslims that practice the peaceful religion of Islam.

    So many in the past have acted like we are satan ourselves for defending religious freedom of Muslims and other non-christian religions. We are just patriots who believe in the American principles that founded this great nation. I am just so glad to see so many Texas Republicans showing the same patriotism!

  • thenitenurse

    A good percentage of physicians that practice in our country are Muslim. I think people need to get a grip on their issues with the Muslims in our country. Most Muslims in our country are hard working, intelligent, and compassionate people. Judge people on their character not their religion!

  • SHM1026

    I am sure Dr. Shafi is more American than this Dorrie O'Brien. Did she ever read the Constitution, or is she just too stupid or ignorant to even try? If anyone should be thrown out, it is SHE.

  • Dicazi

    Yes!

    I'd vote to kick out those 26% that voted to kick him out.

  • RG

    26% voted to kick him out. Just 10 points shy of Trump's overall support. Helps explain the who and the why of the immovable support President Thug still has.

  • TexasVulcan

    Isn't America great? A place where it's "news" that only 1/4 of those Republicans wanted to kick out a Muslim.

  • Chipnputt

    No one can/should be excluded or included in any political position because of religion, or the lack of.

  • working_class_hero

    This is very encouraging. Moderates in both parties are rejecting the extremists and moving toward the center. We are seeing more Mormons in the Democratic party and more Muslims in the Republican party. People are growing weary of anger and sarcasm and we are beginning to reach out to each other to find common ground. Some will be threatened by this change and express anger and cynicism but that's only to be expected. Keep it up!

  • JesterMarcus

    Funny that it's a news story when the GOP decides not to do something terrible.

  • DavieFL

    Pretty sure that if trump was able to vote on this he will be #50 against.