By Umar Farooq
A Muslim doctor in the state of Texas is facing calls to step down from his county seat because of his religion.
Shahid Shafi defied many odds by winning a city council seat, serving as a delegate to Texas Republican conventions and being appointed to serve as vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party all while a practicing Muslim.
But the trauma surgeon is facing opposition from some who see a contradiction with him maintaining his religion while keeping a high ranking position in the Texas Republican Party.
There is a movement within the local party to remove Shafi from his position because of his Muslim identity, according to local reports.
“Dr. Shafi is a practicing, Mosque-attending muslim who claims not to follow sharia law or know what it is,” Republican Sara Legvold said in a Facebook post in August. “As a practicing muslim that is an overt falsehood. Sharia law is anathema to our Constitution because Islam recognizes no other law but shariah.”
A petition is calling for Darl Easton, chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party and the person who appointed Shafi, to step down from his position.
“This is, unfortunately, not the first time that people or my political opponents have tried to use my religion against me to distract the voters,” Shafi told The Washington Post last week. “And unfortunately, I don’t think it will be the last either.”
The movement to remove Shafi drew criticism from top Republicans, who emphasized freedom of religion.
“I urge the Tarrant County GOP to stop this attempt to remove a hardworking county party official based on religious beliefs. We must move towards a more inclusive Republican Party and stop tearing down our own if we are to keep Texas red,” George P. Bush, Texas Land Commissioner, said on Twitter.
A motion regarding the removal of Shafi is scheduled for a vote Jan. 10.
“The reason I have stayed on is because the issue before the party is not about who the vice chair should be. It’s much more fundamental than that,” Shafi told the newspaper. “It is about religious freedom, and if we are going to have a test of religion in the party, where will we stop? If Muslim Americans are not welcome in the GOP, who will be excluded next?”