Local Republican chaplain moves to keep Muslim out of office

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Syed Ali just wanted to help out fellow Republicans when he decided to become a precinct chair.

"I was always dedicated," said Ali, who has voted for Republicans ever since Ronald Reagan was president.

But things didn't go as planned in what was supposed to be a routine meeting on Monday night at the Harris County Republican Party. As Party Chair Paul Simpson was going through the list of potential precinct chairs, the party's Chaplain, Trebor Gordon rose up to speak.

"Mr. Chairman, I move to remove the chairman and founder of the Muslim Council of the USA, Sayid Ali on the grounds that Islam does not have any basis, any foundation, it's the total opposite of our foundation," said Gordon, to audible gasps in in the room.

"I would ask you to take into consideration that Islam and Christianity do not mix," Gordon continued. "We can continue to try to be inclusive and I get that."

It just happens the entire incident was captured on video by a Republican activist. In the now viral Facebook Live video, Gordon says his reason for opposing Ali is simple: his Islamic faith.

"I will also tell you that during my prayer, this man did not bow his head. During the Pledge of Allegiance, he did not utter a word. He didn't even try to fake it and move his lips."

In the days following that meeting, Trebor, who is also the outreach director for Houston City Council Member Mike Knox, got an earful from his boss.

"He made some clearly incendiary comments. I can't defend those, in any shape or form, that's not the policy in this office," said Knox.

Knox says he's counseled Gordon, but will give him an opportunity to change, and let him keep his job. However, he is changing Gordon's title for Outreach Director to Director of Special projects.

"I have no problems with the Muslim community," said Knox. "Certainly terrorism I have a problem with, but the Muslim community is not all about terrorism."

Harris County Republican Party Chair Paul Simpson says he believes what happened Monday night actually showed how open the party is.

"If people have opinions, they are free to voice them, let the marketplace of ideas work out," said Simpson, who pointed out that the support for Ali far outpaced the people who agreed with Gordon.

"The overwhelming majority of our grass roots volunteers agree that Mr. Ali is a good Republican, who advances conservative principles to help his country."

Even Ali isn't mad.

"The Constitution of the United States gives him the freedom of speech, that was his to speak," he said.

Ali reveling in the fact that at the end of the meeting, and overwhelming majority of fellow Republicans voted down Gordon's attempts to kick him out.

Eyewitness News attempted to reach Gordon, he did not respond. He will remain as a chaplain at the Harris County Republican Party for now. Council Member Knox says he is taking the compassionate approach and giving Gordon another chance.
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