By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Religion News Service
Dr. Shahid Shafi, a trauma surgeon who is Muslim, declared victory over bigotry and a win for religious freedom after fellow Republicans in Texas’ most conservative urban county voted 139-49 with 10 abstentions to retain him in a key leadership position.
The much-anticipated vote Thursday night (Jan. 10) by the Tarrant County GOP came during a two-hour, closed-door meeting by precinct chairs at a church in the Fort Worth suburb of Richland Hills.
“Tonight, the torch of liberty burns brighter. Today, my faith in our party and our country has been reaffirmed,” said Shafi, who will remain one of the county party’s two regional vice chairs, in a statement on Facebook. “My fellow Republicans have demonstrated that we remain the party of Lincoln and Reagan, which is open to all Americans, regardless of their religion, caste, creed, color, ethnicity or country of origin.”
For months, a political civil war had raged within the Tarrant County GOP, pitting Republicans who welcomed Shafi and the diversity he brought to the local party against those who characterized any follower of Islam as a soldier in a “stealth jihad.”
Even before Shafi was appointed to his post in July, Dorrie O’Brien, a precinct chair who cast the original lone vote against him, had warned of the supposed dangers of Islam. She argued that the faith is “spread now far more by lies, deception and concocted perception than it is by physical jihad.”
My original coverage of this: Texas GOP dispute pits religious freedom against claims of ‘stealth jihad’
Religion News Service is a national wire service whose media partners include The Associated Press, USA Today and the Washington Post.