Other Voices

Can you trust Muslims in America? A Southlake councilman says yes

Dr. Shahid Shafi was elected to the City Council in Southlake in 2014.
Dr. Shahid Shafi was elected to the City Council in Southlake in 2014. Special to the S-T

Some ask if Muslims in America can be trusted.

Recently, my fellow Texans answered that question affirmatively. In 2014, I was elected to represent the residents of Southlake on our City Council.

I am an American of Pakistani origin, born to parents of Indian origin, an immigrant, a father, a husband, a son, a brother, a surgeon, a scientist, a teacher, a volunteer, a mentor, an employer and a taxpayer — who happens to be a Muslim.

I ran for the office because America is our home, and it is our duty to give back to our homeland.

When I ran for office, many people did not believe that a Muslim had any chance of winning an election in this country in the current atmosphere.

I disagreed because I believe that in this country, it matters not where you come from. It only matters where you are going.

With their votes, Texans affirmed my belief and my faith in this country.

Americans of Muslim faith have served on city councils in Houston, Paris, Murphy, Richardson and now Southlake.

We serve in these offices not as Muslims but as Americans. We take pride in our heritage, but we serve as Americans.

Like many immigrants, I came to the U.S. with very little except a desire to be the best I could be. I found opportunities that eventually led to my personal and professional success.

I took my oath of citizenship in 2009. Since then, I have participated in the political process, voting in every election. I help other candidates for elected offices with their campaigns.

I participate in local, county and state Republican clubs.

In May 2014, as we waited for results after the polls closed, I looked around at my friends and supporters.

I saw Christians, Muslims and Jews; old and young; men, women and children; white, brown and black.

Some were native-born Texans, others were not. Some of them had never met a Muslim before. Some had never met an immigrant before.

Yet they supported my campaign. My victory speech that evening consisted of only three words: “only in America.”

Only in America is it possible for a brown, Muslim immigrant with an accent to win an election.

I believe that the future of our nation is brighter than its past. But success is only possible if we believe in ourselves and we believe in America and its founding principles.

It does not mean that this country is perfect, but that it continues to strive for perfection.

It does not mean that we agree on every issue, but it means that we must always preserve, protect and defend our Constitution and laws.

America is a nation of immigrants. These tired, poor, huddled masses come in all shapes, colors and religions, looking for a better life.

The values that unite us are far stronger than our differences.

I remain confident and hopeful about the future of our homeland — the United States of America.

Shahid Shafi, a surgeon, serves on the Southlake City Council. shafi910@gmail.com