Texas GOP of­fi­cials pass res­o­lu­tion on re­li­gious free­dom

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - News - BY ANNA M. TINSLEY atins­[email protected]­gram.com

Texas Repub­li­can of­fi­cials on Satur­day passed a res­o­lu­tion stress­ing that mem­bers across the state have the “free­dom to prac­tice all faiths.”

The mea­sure, unan­i­mously ap­proved by the State Repub­li­can Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee in Austin, does not specif­i­cally men­tion Tar­rant County, but it comes in the wake of a pro­posal by some lo­cal Repub­li­cans to re­move a Mus­lim from a party lead­er­ship post.

“This is the Repub­li­can Party of Texas,” Repub­li­can JT Ed­wards of Se­nate Dis­trict 11 said in urg­ing mem­bers to sup­port the res­o­lu­tion dur­ing the quar­terly meet­ing Satur­day. “We are not the party of big­ots. ... We are not.”

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 prac- tice all faiths. “

At is­sue is an ef­fort that be­gan months ago when a small group of Tar­rant Repub­li­cans be­gan push­ing to re­move Shahid Shafi, a Mus­lim, from the post of vice chair­man.

Those be­hind the move to oust Shafi, a sur­geon and South­lake City Coun­cil mem­ber, say this is not about re­li­gion but whether Shafi is loyal to Is­lam and Is­lamic law or con­nected “to Is­lamic ter­ror groups.”

The Star-Tele­gram re­cently re­ported that the ef­fort to re­move Shafi has ex­panded. Oth­ers tar­geted in­clude the party chair­man, Darl 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.

“We are keenly aware of what is go­ing on, what needs to be done and we are work­ing through this process,” ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Su­san Wright, wife of U.S. Rep.- elect Ron Wright, said dur­ing the meet­ing. “We are blis­ter­ingly aware of the me­dia and the im­pact of it.

“We do have some peo­ple who have raised this is­sue and are push­ing their ideas. Our party has rules to al­low that. It is messy and we are not pleased with the sausage mak­ing,” she said. “But our (ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee) has the right to work through (this).”

The is­sue of whether to re­move Shafi from his position was dis­cussed by Repub­li­cans be­hind closed doors dur­ing their Nov. 10 meet­ing. A vote is sched­uled Jan. 10 for the Tar­rant County GOP ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, which is made up of precinct chair­men.

“The SREC made a clear state­ment to­day -racism and big­otry is not what the Repub­li­can Party of Texas stands for,” James Dickey, who heads the Texas Repub­li­can Party, said in a state­ment. “We wel­come all who share our val­ues of lim­ited gov­ern­ment, the sanc­tity of life, ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­nity, per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity and a thriv­ing freemar­ket econ­omy.”

SHAFI PRO­POSAL

Eas­ton, who ap­pointed Shafi over the sum­mer, has said th­ese ef­forts to re­move Shafi and oth­ers is wrong.

There’s an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for Eas­ton to step down, but he has said he won’t.

Repub­li­can Dor­rie O’Brien, a Repub­li­can precinct chair­woman from Grand Prairie, asked ear­lier this year for Shafi’s ap­point­ment to be re­con­sid­ered.

The is­sue was de­layed un­til af­ter the Nov. 6 elec­tion, which saw Tar­rant County turn­ing blue in the U.S. Se­nate race.

The ef­fort first be­came pub­lic af­ter O’Brien and oth­ers made posts on so­cial me­dia call­ing for re­con­sid­er­a­tion of Shafi’s ap­point­ment.

“Dr. Shafi is a prac­tic­ing, Mosque-at­tend­ing mus­lim who claims not to fol­low sharia law or know what it is,” ac­tivist Sara Legvold wrote on the Pro­tect Texas Face­book page in call­ing for his re­moval. “As a prac­tic­ing mus­lim that is an overt false­hood. Sharia law is anath­ema to our Con­sti­tu­tion be­cause Is­lam rec­og­nizes no other law but shariah.

“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.”

SHAFI RE­SPONSE

Shafi 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 Amer­i­canIs­lamic Re­la­tions, “nor any ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

On Satur­day, af­ter the res­o­lu­tion was ap­proved, he spoke to the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

“I be­lieve that it’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about what we stand for as a party and a coun­try. There were mo­ments of doubt in my own mind. But to­day, there are no doubts about what we are and what we be­lieve in.”

WE ARE NOT THE PARTY OF BIG­OTS. ... WE ARE NOT. Repub­li­can JT Ed­wards of Se­nate Dis­trict 11

ANNA M. TINSLEY atins­[email protected]­gram.com

The Tar­rant County Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee met pri­vately in Novem­ber in the sanc­tu­ary at Faith Creed Church in Rich­land Hills to vote on a con­tro­ver­sial plan to oust a leader of their party be­cause he is Mus­lim.

Bay­lorhealth.edu

Some sought to oust Shahid Shafi from his post.

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