HOUSTON – A chaplain tried to block another member of Harris County’s Republican Party from becoming a precinct chairman because of the man’s religion.
Syed Shahid Ali walks with a cane and screws hold his broken left ankle together. But he will not break stride.
Ali roams his neighborhood trying to galvanize support for the Republican Party he’s been a part of for three decades. Even after one fellow party member cast shade on Ali’s religion and right to serve the party in a leadership role, he remains steadfast.
During a recent Harris County Republican meeting, Chaplain Trebor Gordon voiced opposition to Ali’s selection as a precinct chairman. The meeting was recorded live and posted on Facebook.
“On the grounds that Islam does not have any basis or any foundation,” Gordon said on the recording. “It is in total opposite of our foundation.”
“I’m not offended,” Ali said. “I’m not disappointed. I never (felt) in this country 33 years discrimination. So why should I mind it? That is the freedom. That is the democracy. So that’s his mind, his point of view. (He’s) welcome.”
Dozens of party leaders, including County Chair Paul Simpson, consider Ali more than qualified.
“I think people just didn’t know who Mr. Ali was,” Simpson said. “I brought him out to the front (of the meeting) so they (could) see. He’s an active Republican. He’s been involved in the party for years. He’s a more reliable, active Republican than the guy running against me for county chair.”
Party leadership reminded members that there was no religious test to be a precinct chair. So, by the end of the meeting, Ali had a crowd of supporters.
“The party is not prejudiced party,” Ali said. “(The) party doesn’t discriminate. So, this thing is a plus for the party.
Ali wants no apology.
He’s too focused on his next step: helping Republicans win elections in November.