The locally elected Republicans — including County Judge Glen Whitley, Sheriff Bill Waybourn and District Clerk Tom Wilder — released a statement noting that a person’s religious faith should never be a factor when a person is appointed to a post with the Tarrant County Republican Party.
“We would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our belief in the core values of religious liberty and the freedom to practice our own individual faiths,” according to the statement signed by eight local Republicans. “We therefore offer this statement as our continued support of Tarrant County Republican Chair Darl Easton’s appointments to party leadership positions.”
Earlier this year, Easton appointed Shafi, a surgeon and Southlake City Council member, to serve as one of the party’s vice chairmen.
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Within months, Republican Dorrie O’Brien, a Republican precinct chairwoman from Grand Prairie, asked for Shafi’s appointment to be reconsidered.
She and a small group of others behind the move to oust Shafi say this is not about religion but whether Shafi is loyal to Islam and Islamic law or connected “to Islamic terror groups.”
Tarrant precinct chairs discussed the issue behind closed doors during their Nov. 10 meeting but ran out of time to vote.
A vote now is scheduled Jan. 10 for the Tarrant County GOP executive committee, which is made up of precinct chairmen.
Others also are speaking out, urging the Tarrant County Republican Party to keep Shafi in his vice chairman post.
The Texas Medical Association, Tarrant County Medical Association and TEXPAC Board of Directors recently sent a joint letter stating that to Easton.
“Just as we reject discrimination of all kinds in our profession and in our practices, we urge you and the party’s executive committee to reject discrimination against Dr. Shafi because of his faith,” according to the letter signed by representatives of all three groups. “Prejudice and discrimination are anti-American and anti-Texan, and contrary to the ethical precepts of medicine.
“We are proud of Dr. Shafi, a naturalized American citizen, for taking this directive to heart with his serve.”
These letters come in the wake of recent Star-Telegram reports that the effort to remove Shafi has expanded.
Others targeted include the party chairman, Easton; a precinct chairwoman and area leader, Kelly Canon; and a precinct chairwoman who is married to a Muslim, Lisa Grimaldi Abdulkareem. Printouts of emails detailing the efforts were delivered anonymously to the Star-Telegram, which has been writing about this effort since August.
Shafi, an immigrant from Pakistan, has said he became a U.S. citizen in 2009 and soon joined the Republican Party.
He said he’s not associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, nor the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “nor any terrorist organization.” He also said he supports Second Amendment rights and American Laws for American Courts. And he said he’s never promoted Shariah.
The statement by Tarrant Republicans was signed by Whitley, Waybourn, Wilder, Commissioners Gary Fickes, Andy Nguyen and J.D. Johnson, County Clerk Mary Louise Garcia and Tax Assessor Collector Ron Wright.
Last week, several top statewide Republicans — including Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush — also spoke out against the effort to remove Shafi.
And the State Republican Executive Committee recently passed a resolution stressing that members across the state have the “freedom to practice all faiths.”
The resolution in part states that all “Republican county executive committees (are encouraged) to follow the Rules of the Republican Party of Texas related to participation in meetings and conventions; and reaffirm our core values of religious liberty and the freedom to practice all faiths. “