Repub­li­cans who want to re­move Mus­lim add tar­gets

Star-Telegram - - Front Page - BY ANNA M. TINSLEY atins­[email protected]­gram.com

An ef­fort to re­move a Mus­lim from Tar­rant County Repub­li­can Party lead­er­ship is ex­pand­ing.

In ad­di­tion to a push to re­move Shahid Shafi, a Mus­lim, from the post of vice chairman, some Repub­li­cans are hop­ing to oust at least three more peo­ple from po­si­tions within the party.

Oth­ers tar­geted in­clude:

Darl Eas­ton, who heads the Tar­rant County Repub­li­can Party.

Kelly Canon, a GOP precinct chair­woman be­lieved to be the sub­ject in a party mem­ber’s email de­scrib­ing a “Demo­crat who has man­aged to ob­tain the po­si­tion of Area Leader.”

Lisa Grimaldi Ab­dulka­reem, a GOP precinct chair­woman and vice chair­woman of the Tar­rant County Repub­li­can Re­cruit­ment Di­vi­sion, who is mar­ried to a Mus­lim. Calls for these Repub­li­cans to be re­moved as GOP lead­ers were de­tailed in sev­eral emails Repub­li­can Dale At­te­bery sent to oth­ers in the party. Printouts of those mes­sages were anony­mously de­liv­ered to the Star-Tele­gram. “This is a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign, just like any other cam­paign, but for a party of­fice,” At­te­bery wrote in an Oct. 18 email, not­ing that there are two peo­ple in of­fice “who do not be­long there, as nei­ther one has the best in­ter­est of good Con­ser­va­tives, loyal Repub­li­cans and avid TEA Partiers in mind.”

That email also called for seek­ing Eas­ton’s res­ig­na­tion, and a sep­a­rate email noted that it’s time to re­move Canon, who is be­lieved to be the one re­ferred to as a Demo­crat in the email.

“We have be­come overly lax,” that email stated.

The ef­fort to oust GOP mem­bers from lead­er­ship po­si­tions be­gan ear­lier this year when Repub­li­can Dor­rie O’Brien asked for Shafi’s ap­point­ment to be reconsidered.

It ramped up — and ex­panded — af­ter the Nov. 6 elec­tion, which saw Tar­rant County turn­ing blue in the U.S. Se­nate race.

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.”

Many in the party op­pose the ef­fort to re­move Shafi.

“If the Repub­li­can Party doesn’t stand up against those who want to dis­crim­i­nate against oth­ers ... it will be the down­fall of the Repub­li­can Party even­tu­ally,” Ab­dulka­reem said in an email re­spond­ing to StarTele­gram ques­tions. “It starts with Dr. Shafi, my­self and Kelly Canon. But what hap­pens when next they de­cide they don’t like Catholics or the Methodists?

“Where does the dis­crim­i­na­tion end? I be­lieve peo­ple need to speak up loudly and let the few know that this is NOT right and it won’t be tol­er­ated. To sit and say noth­ing is ba­si­cally agree­ing with the minority that could eas­ily be­come the ma­jor­ity if noth­ing is done.”

At­te­bery’s emails note that the ef­fort in­cludes him­self, O’Brien, Sara Legvold and Bret Coody. Each ei­ther de­clined or didn’t re­spond to re­quests for com­ment from the Star-Tele­gram.

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.

‘ANTI-IS­LAMIC NAR­RA­TIVE’

Tar­rant Repub­li­can ac­tivist James Scott Trimm crit­i­cized Eas­ton be­cause as he ap­pointed and de­fended Shafi and oth­ers, Demo­crat Beto O’Rourke won the re­li­ably red Tar­rant County in the U.S. Se­nate bat­tle against Repub­li­can Ted Cruz. Eas­ton took of­fice last sum­mer.

Trimm has posted an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for Eas­ton to re­sign. As of Tues­day af­ter­noon, it had 32 sig­na­tures.

“Darl’s lead­er­ship has brought dis­unity to the party,” Trimm said. “Tar­rant County is turn­ing pur­ple while Darl is more con­cerned with de­fend­ing con­tro­ver­sial ap­point­ments.”

And Trimm stressed that it’s not just a “small group” that want Shafi re­moved from of­fice. He per­son­ally wants to see him re­moved, not be­cause of his religion, but be­cause he doesn’t think Shafi agrees with the Repub­li­can Party’s pro-Is­rael plat­form.

Eas­ton said he doesn’t plan to step down and he be­lieves that calls to re­move Repub­li­cans from their posts are wrong.

He said he be­lieves all this is “caused by an un­war­ranted fear that all Mus­lims are pro­po­nents of the rad­i­cal tenets of Shariah.”

At­te­bery’s email talks about re­mov­ing Ab­dulka­reem, whose hus­band is a U.S. cit­i­zen and Mus­lim, re­fer­ring to her only as the “V-Chair for the stand­ing com­mit­tee re­spon­si­ble for re­cruit­ing new precinct chairs and other vol­un­teers.”

An Oct. 17 email states rea­sons, such as that Ab­dulka­reem tweeted a pic­ture taken of an ap­par­ent anti-Trump arts dis­play at a Fort Worth Arts Fes­ti­val ... “with a ‘hal­lelu­jah’ hands emoji for her com­men­tary.” That tweet ap­par­ently drew “vir­u­lently anti-Trump tweets and retweets,” the email stated.

“Af­ter see­ing these things, would it be a fair, and in fact rea­son­able, ques­tion to ask our­selves what some­one with these sen­ti­ments is do­ing in our party?” At­te­bery’s email read.

Ab­dulka­reem said she be­came a tar­get af­ter stand­ing up for Shafi.

“I wouldn’t change a thing and will never let him stand alone in this fight,” she said. “He is a good man and gives a lot of him­self to help the party. If they are suc­cess­ful in re­mov­ing him then there is no need to re­move me be­cause I will re­sign and walk out with him. Many oth­ers have pledged to do the same.

“I also pray daily for Darl Eas­ton,” she said. “All he wants to do is move the party fur­ther and these peo­ple won’t al­low him to do that. I can’t imag­ine the emo­tional toll this is tak­ing on him and his wife. They are good peo­ple. Darl is noth­ing but hon­est and hard­work­ing and these peo­ple should be ashamed of how they have treated him.”

As for Canon, there’s one ref­er­ence in an un­dated mes­sage that says “we need to re­move at least 1 Demo­crat who has man­aged to ob­tain the po­si­tion of Area Leader.”

Some say that refers to Canon, who was a Demo­crat more than a decade ago be­fore join­ing the GOP. She has been out­spo­ken about her op­po­si­tion to re­mov­ing Shafi from of­fice.

“If this small group is suc­cess­ful in re­mov­ing Dr. Shafi, I’ll re­sign my post as area leader and precinct chair,” she told the Star-Tele­gram in mid-Novem­ber. “I’m not go­ing to be part of that. I’ve got more im­por­tant things I can do.”

BAT­TLE OVER SHAFI

In Au­gust, a small group be­gan call­ing for Shafi’s re­moval from party lead­er­ship.

O’Brien, a Repub­li­can precinct chair­woman from Grand Prairie, and oth­ers made sev­eral posts on so­cial me­dia call­ing for re­con­sid­er­a­tion of Shafi’s ap­point­ment to one of the vice chairman posts.

“Dr. Shafi is a prac­tic­ing, Mosque-at­tend­ing mus­lim who claims not to fol­low sharia law or know what it is,” 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 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.

At­te­bery wrote an email on Nov. 18 stress­ing that lo­cal and na­tional me­dia are now seek­ing com­ments about this sit­u­a­tion.

“We are not com­ment­ing to any­one,” he wrote in that mes­sage. “Re­mem­ber please, mem­bers of the news me­dia are Democrats, they have an agenda, they are not our friends and their fa­vorite color is blue. Add to that, they are mas­ters at cut/paste with out-of-con­text an­swers/state­ments. 2+2 equals 7 when deal­ing with those peo­ple. … Be care­ful, please.”

Shahid Shafi

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