Shahid Shafi, an India-born Republican leader in Texas may be ousted as the party’s vice chairman for being a Muslim and allegedly preferring Islamic over US law, according to media reports. A group of Tarrant County Republicans will vote on Thursday on whether to remove Shafi as vice-chairman of the county party after a small faction of the members put forth a formal motion to oust him because he is Muslim, The Texas Tribune reported.
Those in favour of the motion to recall Shafi, a trauma surgeon and member of the Southlake City Council, have said he does not represent all Tarrant County Republicans. They have also said Islamic ideologies run counter to the US Constitution — an assertion many Texas Republican officials have called bigoted.
Shafi himself has denied the allegations. “This is, unfortunately, not the first time that people or my political opponents have tried to use my religion against me to distract the voters. And unfortunately, I don’t think it will be the last either,” Shafi told The Washington Post.
Shafi, born in India and raised in Pakistan, travelled to the US to study medicine. He became a naturalised citizen in 2009 and, since then, has been involved with the Republican Party. In an open letter, he wrote that he believed “much of the hate against Muslims is driven by a fear of terrorism”, the Tribune report said.
“Here are the facts. I have never had any association with the Muslim Brotherhood nor (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) nor any terrorist organisation,” he wrote.
“I believe that the laws of our nation are our Constitution and the laws passed by our elected legislatures — I have never promoted any form of Sharia Law. I fully support and believe in American Laws for American Courts. I am honoured to be an American and a Republican,” he was quoted as saying.
Several prominent Texas Republicans have rallied behind Shafi leading up to Thursday’s vote — a list that includes US Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Land Commissioner George P Bush and former House Speaker Joe Straus.
Thursday’s motion “is about religious prejudice”, said Darl Easton, the Tarrant County Republican Chairman who appointed Shafi to his role in July. “(Shafi’s) very active with the party, but most of the people don’t even care about what he’s done. Most of them already have a prejudice against Muslims, and a lot of that comes from the attack on 9/11 and the Sharia law they claim all Muslims must obey,” Easton said.
He said it was unclear whether Thursday’s vote will happen in public, behind closed doors or be delayed indefinitely, Easton added.