RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- Shahid Shafi, a Muslim, remains a vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party.
Tarrant County Republicans voted 139-49 late Thursday night -- after more than 2 1/2 hours of private discussion among precinct chairs -- to keep Shafi, 54, in the leadership post.
Loud cheers were heard from where precinct chairs were gathered behind closed doors at the Faith Creek Church in Richland Hills shortly before party officials announced the vote to the media.
"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 written statement.
"While (Thursday's) vote brings an end to this unfortunate episode, it also demonstrates we are a party that respects the right of those who disagree on an issue to have a seat at the table and their voices heard," according to the statement. "Religious liberty won tonight and while that makes a great day for the Republican Party of Tarrant County, that victory also serves notice that we have much work to do unifying our party."
Shafi said the vote affirmed his belief in Tarrant County Republicans.
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"As we struggled through the last few months, it would have been easy for me to quit. But I stayed on to fight," he said. "We were fighting for religious freedom ... and today we have come out victorious."
He said Thursday's vote took a stand "against bigotry of all kinds."
"Our union is a little more perfect today ... and it's time to put (party) divisions to rest," he added.
At least one precinct chair -- Arlington Republican Dale Attebery, who was involved in the effort to oust Shafi -- reportedly tossed his ID at the lectern after the vote. Easton said he accepted that as Attebery's resignation.