Tarrant County GOP votes to keep Muslim vice chair

Tarrant County Republicans voted Thursday night to keep their vice chair, despite opposition to remove him because he is Muslim.

The Tarrant County Republican Party voted 139-49 in favor of keeping Dr. Shahid Shafi as their vice chair.

There was a heavy police presence for the Thursday meeting as party members and leaders arrived.

The controversy has made national headlines after one party member took issue with Dr. Shahid Shafi's religion.

The controversy began last summer after Precinct Chair Dorrie O'Brien started the effort to remove Shafi based on his religion. She didn't have much to say to the FOX 4 cameras, only saying no comment as she headed inside while wearing an American flag sweater.

O’Brien has had some support online where she's been vocal about her opinion on her Facebook page, saying she doesn't believe Shafi should represent Tarrant county Republicans because not all Republicans believe Islam is acceptable in the U.S.

The group quickly went into a closed executive session at the start of the meeting to discuss the vote. The results were announced shortly after 9 p.m. during a press conference.

"Tonight's vote demonstrates the majority of Republicans in Tarrant County stand with Dr. Shafi and on the firm foundation of religious freedom memorialized in the Declaration of Independence," Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Darl Easton said in a statement.

Others have strongly supported Shafi and showed up Thursday specifically to make their voices heard.

A Democrat supporter drove from Irving to show solidarity with Shafi, saying he might not agree politically with Shaf but supports his right to hold a position in his party.

There were some supporters in favor of removing Shafi from office, but none of them wanted to speak on camera.

Though party leaders say they typically have security at the entrances of every meeting, there was a noticeable police presence inside and outside the church and a large group of local and national media covering the meeting.