Re­pub­li­can of­fi­cial tells Tar­rant GOP to re­ject big­otry, keep Shafi

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

A top Travis County Re­pub­li­can is reach­ing out to Tar­rant lead­ers, call­ing on them to shut down an ef­fort to re­move a Mus­lim — and oth­ers — from lo­cal GOP lead­er­ship.

Travis County Re­pub­li­can Party Chair­man Matt Mack­owiak on Thurs­day emailed a let­ter to Tar­rant County Chair­man Darl Easton ask­ing him to “re­ject a big­oted ef­fort launched by at least one of your precinct chairs to re­move a Mus­lim in­di­vid­ual from your lead­er­ship and re­move an­other precinct chair who is mar­ried to a Mus­lim.” At is­sue is an ef­fort that be­gan months ago when a small group of lo­cal Re­pub­li­cans be­gan push­ing to re­move Shahid Shafi, a Mus­lim, from the post of vice chair­man.

Re­pub­li­can Dor­rie O’Brien asked for Shafi’s ap­point­ment to be re­con­sid­ered, and the is­sue 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.”

There’s an on­line pe­ti­tion call­ing for Easton — who ap­pointed Shafi ear­lier this year — to step down.

Easton has said he won’t step down and has re­peat­edly said that these ef­forts to re­move Re­pub­li­cans from their posts are wrong.

In ad­di­tion to calls to re­move Shafi and Easton, a small group within the Tar­rant County Re­pub­li­can Party, ac­cord­ing to emails anony­mously de­liv­ered to the StarTele­gram, is also tar­get­ing:

Kelly Canon, a GOP precinct chair­woman who has sup­ported Shafi and been de­scribed in­di­rectly in an email as a “Demo­crat who has man­aged to ob­tain the po­si­tion of

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‘‘ SOME IN­DI­VID­U­ALS MAY HAR­BOR FEARS OR SUS­PI­CIONS ABOUT OTHER IN­DI­VID­U­ALS. THIS IS UN­AVOID­ABLE. LEAD­ER­SHIP RE­QUIRES US AS COUNTY CHAIRS TO FO­CUS ON WHAT IS IM­POR­TANT.

Travis County Re­pub­li­can Party Chair­man Matt Mack­owiak in a let­ter to Tar­rant County Chair­man Darl Easton

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.

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 by the Tar­rant County GOP ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, which is made up of precinct chair­men.

FO­CUS ON THE PARTY

Mack­owiak asked Easton to put an end to this ef­fort.

“Some in­di­vid­u­als may har­bor fears or sus­pi­cions about other in­di­vid­u­als. This is un­avoid­able,” he wrote. “Lead­er­ship re­quires us as County Chairs to fo­cus on what is im­por­tant.

“In my county, we have a three-part mis­sion: Elect as many Re­pub­li­cans as pos­si­ble, grow the party, and ad­vance con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples. Any­thing out­side that mis­sion is not some­thing in which we in­volve our­selves.”

Mack­owiak’s let­ter was copied to Tar­rant County GOP of­fi­cers; James Dickey, who heads the state’s Re­pub­li­can Party; Alma Pow­ell, the vice chair of the state’s Re­pub­li­can Party; and state Re­pub­li­can ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers. A copy also was sent to the Star-Tele­gram.

Mack­owiak said that as long as he leads the Travis County Re­pub­li­can Party, he will make sure the or­ga­ni­za­tion is wel­com­ing “to peo­ple of all faiths — or no faith at all.”

“We need to be laser­fo­cused on grow­ing our party, some­thing that both of our coun­ties were re­minded by the fact that the Demo­cratic can­di­date for U.S. Se­nate won Tar­rant and Travis County just a few weeks ago,” he wrote to Easton. “I wish you good luck in the weeks and months to come.”

PUSH AGAINST 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,” 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 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.” He also said he sup­ports Se­cond Amend­ment rights and Amer­i­can Laws for Amer­i­can Courts. And he said he’s never pro­moted Shariah.

The State Re­pub­li­can Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee has a res­o­lu­tion sup­port­ing Shafi as a vice chair­man in Tar­rant County, stat­ing that he “demon­strates through deed and voice his ded­i­ca­tion and ser­vant lead­er­ship to Re­pub­li­cans in his com­mu­nity and be­yond.”

Shahid Shafi

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