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Dr. Shahid Shafi is the vice chairman of the Tarrant County (Texas) Republican Party. And that’s unusual because… his name is Dr. Shahid Shafi. He’s an educated brown immigrant who became a U.S. citizen in 2009. The practicing Muslim now says he’s “proud to be a Republican.” Earlier this year, he became one of the local GOP leaders.

Those facts alone are mind-blowing and utterly confusing. It’s wonderful that an immigrant rose to political leadership, especially in a party not exactly known for welcoming immigrants with open arms… but on the other hand, what the hell? There are so many inherent conflicts with his life story and the party’s platform.

But it doesn’t matter what I think. All that matters is what those Republicans think, and they’re embracing him. At least some of them are.

Other local Republicans are accusing Shafi of being an extremist whose ultimate goal is bringing Sharia Law to Tarrant County. Late this week, one of the group’s members proposed that there be a secret vote to rescind his appointment at their next meeting (after the midterm elections) because — and only because — he’s Muslim.

[Dorrie] O’Brien declined to discuss Thursday night why she made the motion to remove Shafi, but she recently posted on Facebook that Shafi is “a practicing Muslim and a MB (Muslim Brotherhood) operative.”

“If it wasn’t so dangerous to Texas and to our republic, I could let it go,” she wrote. “But it IS that dangerous and I can’t just sit by and watch it happen. I have to speak out regardless of threats of lawsuits to silence me or threats that I’ll be personally responsible for turning Tarrant County blue, or attempts at public disdain to shame me into shutting up.”

It’s not just one wacky Republican. Another one, Sara Legvold, posted a far lengthier rant against Shafi last month on the Facebook page for a group called “Protect Texas”:

I am writing this letter to ask you to contact your SREC Committee members, Area Leaders and Precinct Chairs(links at top) representing your precinct, to request the removal of Dr. Shahid Shafi as Vice Chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party. Dr. Shafi is a practicing. Mosque-attending muslim who claims not to follow sharia law or know what it is. 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.

Ah yes. The old “He wants to implement Sharia because he says he doesn’t” trick. He’s a sneaky one, that Shafi.

These people make it so damn easy to criticize Republicans for being a party that wants nothing to do with non-white, non-Christian people. They have a Muslim immigrant who supports what they’re doing and wants to promote the party — which is unbelievable on its own — and their own members can’t handle it because they fit every stereotype in the book.

I guess the silver lining here is that those critics are laughingstocks even in the Tarrant County GOP. Someone booed after O’Brien made her request, other party leaders denounced the baseless criticism of Shafi, and there’s no indication such a vote (if it happened) would lead to Shafi being removed from his position.

Still, Shafi is getting a first-hand lesson in who his party really represents. He may be a local leader, but those bigoted voices aren’t going away. In many cases, those bigoted voices are the ones who get elected to office.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.