Shahid Shafi is a Texas trauma surgeon and city councilman who fought off a move to kick him out of leadership in the Tarrant County, Texas Republican party because he’s Muslim.
The effort by a faction in the local GOP to remove Shafi has generated strong criticism from others as discriminatory. Shafi is the vice chairman of the Tarrant County GOP and, according to The Hill, the party took a vote on whether to oust him. Sen. Ted Cruz and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush have spoken out in support of Shafi, reports The Hill.
In the end, the party voted 139-49 to keep Shafi in the position. “This vote reaffirms the commitment by a majority of Tarrant County Republicans to our core values and moral compass, a demonstration of our allegiance to the Texas Republican Party Platform and the Constitutions of the United States and Texas, which strictly prohibit religious and racial discrimination of any kind,” Tarrant County Republican Party Chair Darl Easton said in a statement.
A member of the party named Dorrie O’Brien is leading the charge to oust the Indian-born, Pakistan-raised Shafi, who has lived in the United States since 1990, from leadership, The Hill reports. “Regardless of when we arrived on this precious soil, we are all Americans, with equal rights and responsibilities,” Dr. Shafi wrote in an open letter. “We are all guardians of this Nation. And as part of this sacred responsibility, we need to overcome our fears and learn to trust each other, to create a more perfect union, so our country may remain that shining city on a hill envisioned by President Reagan.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Shafi Is a Surgeon Who Calls Himself an Immigrant & Conservative
On Twitter, Shahid Shafi describes himself as “Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Surgeon, Teacher, Scientist, Mentor, Volunteer, Tax payer, Employer, Immigrant, Elected rep, Conservative, Republican, American.” His cover photo on Twitter shows him with his wife, and their three young children.
On Facebook, he calls himself “Dr. Shafi, Councilman, City of Southlake, TX.”
His top post on Facebook reads, “We are ‘One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.'”
Some other Republicans have spoken out in support of Shafi as a moderate Muslim voice the Republican Party should embrace. For example, Warren V. Norred wrote a letter posted on the website of Texas Senate District 10 that is headlined, “Be It Resolved: The GOP should expand beyond tribal boundaries.” The letter states that Shafi was appointed vice chair of the Tarrant County Republicans in summer 2018 by Tarrant County Chair Darl Easton.
The letter claims that some of the criticism came because people weren’t very familiar with Shafi not just because of his religion. He added, though, that “…it is reasonable to look at people more closely before approving their leadership when they share traits with others who are militantly against our values. As critics have pointed out, there ARE Muslims who are so militant that we would not wish to have them as leadership.”
However, the letter concluded, “In light of all the above and noting that are now in a position where we can encourage a moderate voice in the Muslim world, I stand with Dr. Shafi and the inclusion of just about everyone in the political world who generally agrees with the Republican Platform over that of the Democrats. I urge my fellow precinct chairs to vote against his removal.”
2. O’Brien Argued That Some Republicans Don’t ‘Think Islam is Safe or Acceptable in the U.S.’
O’Brien wrote a lengthy post on Facebook responding to comments defending Shafi from the county GOP Chairman Darl Easton. she noted that Easton said: “I bet most Muslims had a presumed notion that the Republican Party had a no religious discrimination policy. Clearly they’ll get the message from the attacks on Dr. Shafi that many in the Republican Party are extremely discriminating to those that are Muslim. Even I believed that the Republican Party had a no religious Discrimination Policy as stated in RPT Rule 3. False advertising for sure…”
The Easton comment, as posted by O’Brien, continued, “If it does apply to Islam it should be made very clear that it does not cover all religions, or clearly state the Republican Party does not consider Islam to be a religion. It’s an injustice to allow a Muslim to be in the Party for over eight years, then suddenly declare his religion is unsuitable to be in an appointed position in the Party. Totally unfair to have allowed him to volunteer his time and donate his money to the Party, just to discover that the Discrimination Prohibit policy does not apply. Clearly deception of the highest order.”
Darl Easton’s Facebook page says that he is a former airline pilot and ride captain at Patriot Guard Riders, Inc. He also served in the U.S. Air Force.
O’Brien then added her own commentary, writing:
So, Darl, what is your reasoning for denying Shahid the chairmanship of a standing committee? When I submitted a compromise to you through Bill Eastland, did you miss the fact that your and TCGOP and RPT’s gain was a Muslim in an actual leadership role, not just a figurehead role, that even you have called ‘a nothing position of no importance’?
YOU’VE complained to me over and over you don’t understand why I and my like-thinkers have made such an issue over his being vice chair; after all, you say, he has no authority, no decision-making capability:
‘It’s an injustice to allow a Muslim to be in the Party for over eight years, then suddenly declare his religion is unsuitable to be in an appointed position in the Party. Totally unfair to have allowed him to volunteer his time and donate his money to the Party, just to discover that the Discrimination Prohibit policy does not apply.’
Yeah, we haven’t complained about his time and volunteering, have we? Not that that particular line says what you think it says, but we haven’t been discriminating, have we?
Then, not being able to grasp the reality of ‘perception,’ and clearly without the concept of future consequences, you turn down the chance to give him authority . . . because why? Maybe because you believed your own press about the reason we didn’t want him in the vice chair position: that we’re religious bigots. YOU all got together and wrote your narrative of what we’ve wanted and why we wanted it, remember. We didn’t.
We’ve told YOU over and over and over what this issue is:
‘We don’t think he’s suitable as a practicing Muslim to be vice chair because he’d be the representative for ALL Republicans in Tarrant County, and not ALL Republicans in Tarrant County think Islam is safe or acceptable in the U.S., in Tarrant County, and in the TCGOP, and there are big questions surrounding exactly where Dr. Shafi’s loyalties lie, vis a vis Democrat and Republican policies.’
And since that is our (certainly my) position, and you gave him that unacceptable position, we (certainly I) had no qualms about promoting him away from it. We suggested you appoint him to one that would be acceptable and you turned it down. Maybe you don’t want him in a committee chairman’s job?
It does flatly amaze me you didn’t want him in a better position after all your complaining. It seems like pure dadblamed stubbornness to me, but whatever it is, it’s not in TCGOP’s best interests to refuse giving Dr. Shafi a promotion after all the media furor you’ve created over that very thing.
I’ve heard the arguments that we don’t give up a thing with the compromise, so you can’t agree to it. To say that’s shortsighted falls short of what it really is. Can none of you see what you gain?
O’Brien has posted other anti-Islam comments on Facebook. For example, she wrote, “Okay, good grief. So Amazon’s decision to work with Islam beaks (sic) what constitutional rights? Freedom of expression. Freedom of speech. Maybe it breaks some portion of the manufacturers’ agreements with Amazon to sell their products. It certainly decides who can make money and who can’t on a certain subject, and it denies Amazon shoppers choices they might actually want to make, which in turn takes $ out of Amazon’s till. I know what Islam is in America to do. I understand its motives. What the heck is Amazon.” She has also shared stories on ISIS not wanting people to celebrate Christmas. She also shared a photo of a man in camouflage and wrote, “First Sergeant son, 8 years ago in Afghanistan.”
3. In an Open Letter, Shafi Wrote That He Was Honored to Be an American & Republican
Dr. Shafi has responded with a lengthy open letter that is posted on the website of Texas Senate District 10. It reads in full:
I’ve become aware of recent calls by a small group of precinct chairs to remove me as Vice Chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party, simply because I am a Muslim. In the past, I have ignored such comments as these are based upon unfounded allegations, lies and innuendo, designed to prey upon the fears of good people. My experience with my fellow citizens and Republicans of Tarrant County has given me a strong faith in their fundamental sense of fairness. After all, the people of Southlake have elected me to represent them twice in the last four years. But I can’t allow this small group of closed-minded people to damage our party that I’ve supported and served for several years.
The call to remove me from the party of Lincoln and Reagan because of my religion is wrong for several reasons. First, discrimination based upon religion is illegal, immoral, unethical, un-American, and against the foundations of our country and the principles of our party. Second, it plays right into the false narrative of racism and bigotry fomented against the Republican party. Third, it distracts from our core value of religious liberty.
Here are the facts. I have never had any association with the Muslim Brotherhood nor CAIR nor any terrorist organization. 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 support our Second Amendment rights unconditionally, and I believe in the sanctity of life from conception onwards. I believe in small government, lower taxes, individual responsibility, religious freedom, school choice, energy independence, rule of law, and secure borders. For five years in a row, as a City Councilman, I have voted to reduce property taxes in Southlake. I also support Israel’s right to exist.
I came to the US in 1990 with very little. Here, I trained as a surgeon, dedicating myself to saving lives in my new country. My wife and I met in the US and got married in 1992. Together, we have raised our three children here in Tarrant County since 2003. My family and I found freedoms in America that were denied to my forefathers in the old world as religious persecution is not new to our family. In 1947, the British left India and divided it into two countries based on religion. Muslim-majority areas were carved out to create Pakistan while Hindu-majority areas remained as India. My parents came from Muslim families who had lived in harmony with their Hindu neighbors for decades. Driven by bigotry on both sides, over one million people were killed in horrendous acts of violence. Another 10-15 million people were driven from their homes, including my parents, who lost everything because they were Muslims.
I took the oath of US citizenship in 2009. Since then, I have done my best to serve our country and our party. When I decided to run for the City Council in Southlake, many people did not believe that a Muslim had a chance of winning an election in post-9/11 America. I disagreed with them because I believe that in this country, what matters is who you are as an individual — not where you came from. My faith in America was affirmed and I have served on the Southlake City Council since 2014. I have served in this role not as a Muslim but as an American.
I joined the Republican party soon after I became a naturalized citizen in 2009. Since then, I have served in local Republican clubs and on various committees at TCGOP. I have served as a delegate at Precinct Conventions, SD conventions, and State conventions. I have been elected as a delegate to the state GOP convention in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. I have worked extensively to promote GOP values and encouraged citizen participation in our democratic process in Tarrant, Dallas and Collin Counties. I have taught conservative candidates how to run for local offices, and have supported several conservative candidates in their races. Most recently, I started a new Republican Club in our town, Southlake.
When Darl Easton, the newly elected Chairman of Tarrant County Republican Party appointed me as his Vice Chair, I was thrilled and honored. His appointment was ratified in July by the entire Executive Committee of the party, with a single dissenting vote.
Some have questioned the $1750 contribution to Voter Values Fund my wife and I made in 2012. This political action committee was formed by a friend to support an amendment to the charter of the City of Richardson to allow the citizens of Richardson to directly elect their Mayor. Before 2012, the Mayor of Richardson was elected by the City Council. The effort was successful and the Voter Values Fund was dissolved after the Richardson election.
Some have also attempted to label a donation of $1500 to TCGOP as an attempt to buy influence. The fact is that money was used to purchase a table at the annual fundraiser of the Party, the Lincoln Day dinner, for the newly formed Southlake Republican Club. I was later reimbursed by several individuals from Southlake who joined at our table.
I strongly support energy independence using all means, including drilling for fossil fuels. I voted against fracking directly beneath the homes in Southlake, to protect health and safety of Southlake families after the drilling company refused to disclose the nature of chemicals being used. I have worked consistently to protect the citizens of Southlake against special interest groups.
I have attended interfaith events in Dallas with Mayor Mike Rawlings, a Democrat, and in Fort Worth with Mayor Betsy Price, a Republican. These events include dozens of local political, business, and community leaders of all faiths, including Jews and Christians. Recently, following the terrible shooting in Pittsburgh, I joined with people of many faiths at an event of mourning and support at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville. Since my family has known the terrible violence borne of religious bigotry, I will always stand with good people of all faiths that seek understanding and trust rather than fear and hatred.
I believe that much of the hate against Muslims is driven by a fear of terrorism. I understand these fears and I stand together with Americans of all faiths to protect our Nation. I took the oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and the laws of the United States when I became a citizen in 2009. I did it again each time I was elected to the City Council of Southlake in 2014 and 2017. I have always upheld my oath with honor and dignity.
A nation divided by hate and fear makes us weaker, and our enemies stronger. I believe that we can overcome this fear by reaffirming our faith in the founding principles of our country that all men are created equal, with a God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We need to build trust by breaking bread with our neighbors who don’t look like us or talk with an accent. Muslim Americans have contributed tremendously to our country as doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, police officers, fire fighters, entrepreneurs, executives, athletes, even an NFL team owner, and yes, in our armed forces, some of whom have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It is through inclusion, and not exclusion, that we will be able to build strong communities, where neighbors trust and protect each other, and our enemies cannot find refuge.
Regardless of when we arrived on this precious soil, we are all Americans, with equal rights and responsibilities. We are all guardians of this Nation. And as part of this sacred responsibility, we need to overcome our fears and learn to trust each other, to create a more perfect union, so our country may remain that shining city on a hill envisioned by President Reagan.
My heartfelt gratitude to Chairman Darl Easton and the overwhelming majority of Precinct Chairs who have supported me and my family through these difficult times.
I am honored to be an American and a Republican.
4. Shafi Is Serving on the South Lake, Texas City Council & Was Born in India
Shahid Shafi is already an elected official.
“Dr. Shafi is currently serving a second term on the City Council of Southlake. He was first elected in 2014, and re-elected in 2017. Prior to that, he served on the Planning and Zoning Commission of the city of Southlake, and volunteered in multiple other roles since moving to Texas in 2003,” his campaign website says.
“Born in India and raised in Pakistan, Dr. Shafi came to the US in 1990. He trained in general surgery, trauma surgery, surgical critical care, public health, and business management at some of the best universities in the country, including the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Southern Methodist University. He is currently the CEO of a large surgical private practice in Grapevine.”
The website also reveals of his family: “Shahid and Ayesha have been married for over two and half decades, and are raising their three children in Southlake.”
5. Shafi Has Held Various Political Roles in the GOP Throughout the Years
Shafi has been actively engaged in civic life in the United States for some time.
“Dr. Shafi has served in several leadership roles at local, national and state professional and political groups. Currently, he is the Vice Chair of Tarrant County Republican Party (the largest urban Republican county in the state of Texas) and President of Southlake Republican Club,” his website reads.
“Previously, he served as a Republican Precinct Chair in Southlake and on Campaign/Candidates and Outreach committees at Tarrant County Republican Party. He was elected as a delegate to Texas State Republican Conventions in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018.”