- A small group of Tarrant County Republicans are spearheading an effort to remove Shahid Shafi as vice-chair of their party after accusing him of supporting Sharia law, opposing Israel, and having ties to terrorists on the basis of his Islamic faith.
- The call to remove Shafi will be put to a vote on Jan. 10.
- The effort has not only caused a rift among Tarrant County Republicans, but has also threatened their funding as several top donors are hesitant to associate with a party seen as discriminating against a leader based on his faith.
The Tarrant County Republican Party in Texas will vote Thursday on whether to oust Vice-Chairman Shahid Shafi, who some Republicans accuse of preferring Sharia and opposing Israel.
The movement to oust Shafi has divided the GOP in Texas’ third most populous county, as some have alleged that he has a preference for Sharia, opposes the GOP’s pro-Israel stance and has affiliations with terrorist organizations. Others denounce what they see as false allegations intended to remove Shafi from party leadership because of his religion. The infighting has threatened the local party’s funding, as some donors decided to withhold contributions to the party’s Lincoln Day Dinner until after the result of Thursday’s vote. (RELATED: CNN Anchor Attempts To Bait Muslim Republican Into Bashing Trump)
“This is the event that raises enough money to carry us all year in the party,” an anonymous Tarrant GOP precinct chairman told the Dallas Star-Telegram. “It’s a big deal.”
Former Precinct Chairman William Busby, who is still a leader among Tarrant County Republicans, confirmed that the Shafi controversy has threatened the event and cast the party in a bad light.
“I have heard that several big donors are waiting until after the vote to pledge their support,” Busby said. “This (Shafi) story has gained national attention and has put the party in a bad light, all thanks to the actions of a few.”
“Corporate donors, the big donors, don’t want to be associated with a party that’s going in the direction of excluding people based upon their religious beliefs,” Busby added.
Shafi, for his part, has denied allegations that he has any ties to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He also asserted that he supports the U.S. courts and systems of law and that he has never promoted Sharia law.
The movement to remove Shafi began with a small group of Tarrant County Republicans in August of 2018, some of whom urged party members on social media to demand that Shafi be ousted from his position as vice-chair.
“Dr. Shafi is a practicing, Mosque-attending muslim who claims not to follow sharia law or know what it is. As a practicing muslim that is an overt falsehood. Sharia law is anathema to our Constitution because Islam recognizes no other law but shariah,” Republican Sara Legvold wrote in a post on the Protect Texas Facebook page.
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“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,” Legvold added.
Reports of the vote on ousting Shafi surfaced when a series of emails from Republican Dale Attebery were sent anonymously to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in late November of 2018. Attebery’s email exchanges with other party members expressed dismay over the fact that Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke won the county during his campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz.
“We have become overly lax,” one activist wrote in an email, according to The Associated Press.
Worry over the local party’s efficacy spurred the expansion from an effort that began in August to oust Shafi, to an effort to oust three additional Tarrant County GOP leaders who party members believed were weakening the party. Some local Republican activists denounced their party chairman, Darl Easton, for his appointment of Shafi, claiming that Shafi and others’ appointments brought disunity to the party and allowed Democrats to gain a stronger foothold in Tarrant county.
“Darl’s leadership has brought disunity to the party,” said Tarrant Republican James Scott Trimm in an online petition demanding Easton’s resignation. “Tarrant County is turning purple while Darl is more concerned with defending controversial appointments.”
Easton and others have fired back, saying that the campaign to remove Shafi is distinctly counter to Republican values and could in fact severely damage the party’s reputation.
“Tarrant County could easily turn blue and this display of bigotry and exclusion is only giving the democrats more ammo to use in 2020,” Busby said. “We are the big tent party and we don’t believe in religious purity tests to be in leadership.”
“People like Dorrie O’Brien and Dale Attebery (a precinct chairman involved in the effort to oust Shafi) have a very archaic way of thinking and are hurting the party financially and in future elections by their actions right now,” he added.
Easton also sharply denounced the effort.
“It’s just outrageous that we are doing this,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”
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