Republicans in the third-most-populous county in Texas voted overwhelmingly against the removal of one of their party leaders from his post on Thursday.
The vote was not over qualifications or any misdeed by the party leader, Shahid Shafi, a surgeon and longtime Republican who was appointed vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party six months ago.
It was over whether Dr. Shafi’s Muslim faith disqualified him from the job. The vote — and the bitter clashes leading up to it — came as Democrats have been heralding the arrival of the first two Muslim women in Congress last week.
“Religious liberty won tonight,” Darl Easton, the Republican Party’s county chairman, said after Dr. Shafi was supported, 139-49, in Thursday’s vote. “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.”