WASHINGTON (AFP) - A bid to oust a Republican Party leader in Texas because he is a Muslim has failed after it was put to a vote of the executive committee.
Committee members voted 139-49 on Thursday night to retain Shahid Shafi, a trauma surgeon, as the vice chairman of the local branch of the Republican Party.
"Religious liberty won tonight," The Dallas Morning News quoted Tarrant County GOP chairman Darl Easton as saying in statement.
"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," Easton said.
After Easton named Shafi as a vice chairman of the county party leadership in July, a campaign began to oust him because of his Muslim beliefs.
The effort drew national attention and was denounced by Republican Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Shafi, in a statement on his Facebook page, said the past several months had been "extremely difficult" on him and his family.
But he said the committee vote had "reaffirmed" his "faith in our party and our country."
"With today s vote, we have taken a stand against bigotry... against religious discrimination, and to protect our Constitution and the freedoms offered by our Country," he said.
"It is time to put this division to rest," he added. "I have no animosity towards my detractors, they are simply misguided."